Nausea, dizziness, stomach cramping, fatigue, shortness of breath, & nausea are all signs of…what was that, kids? Dumbassery? Well, yes. That actually might be a better answer than my old friend, heat perishing (it sounds better than the completely non-dramatic label ‘exhaustion’).
I did ride, though! It just took me three times longer to hose Encore between gasping on the floor in front of the fan, sipping water, & thinking, “Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up…”
Wow. That Sounds, Um, Fun? What The Why?
You’d think I’d be immune to working in the stickiest of the Carolina versions of air. I mean, at least I was on a horse while the sun set instead of on the bow of an aluminum electrofishing boat wearing black rubber gloves at mid-day!
Alas, just as we must condition our horses to work in heat every year, we must prepare our own physiology for the demands of melting from the inside out.
|Yes, totally what I look like sweating|
(aka all the things I didn’t do last night, but learned from a very smart pro athlete)
- Drink a bottle of water beforehand.
- Even before you fetch Dobbin from the pasture or, if trailering, before you exit the truck on arrival. I sweat a LOT. Like, a greased pig in a sauna on the surface of the sun a lot. All my water bottles are 1 L (~32 oz.) or larger. After I made this a hard rule, it was literally night & day after XC – I could breathe!
- Dress smart.
- Light, wicking materials are your very best friend & I’ll happily share my secrets for budget-friendly options from sports bras to shirts & breeches. If I see a cotton shirt in July, I’ll run screaming. And I don’t run (technically am not allowed to run, at least I got something good out of that mess).
- Fuel your muscles.
- You’re saddled up & hydrated, but just before you get on, snarf a small protein bar or one of those electrolyte yogurt pack thingies that sort of tastes like you’re swallowing a salty booger (yeah, you’re running to buy those now, aren’t you?). I choke down the latter & then chase it with 8-12 oz. of water as I’m readying my bridle.
- If possible, take swigs during walk breaks.
- Obviously, not an option at a gallop, although wouldn’t it be nice if jump judges could toss you a sip every 1/3 of the course, like bikers & runners do??? I could go for misting jumps, too. That water jump’s really too shallow to stay cool; even if you can’t resist the swim, well, then it’s your last jump anyway, oops.
- On sports drinks: never drink them straight (I mean, undiluted, I mean...you know what I mean, LOL).
- You’ll note that so far, I’ve only mentioned water alone. Human metabolism flips a switch when exertion begins. Before the switch, you can’t process any of the electrolytes anyway, you’ll just have more expensive pee, & even lighter versions, such as G2, have too much sugar (not knocking sugar, it’s one of my diet staples), which will just give you a quicker burnout. After you start working, though, a bottle cut in half with water knocks the concentration down to a useful level & staves off fatigue.
|Closer to reality...|
How About That Ride?
Overwhelming desire to retch aside, Encore felt pretty decent. It’s been a rough while for me, health & energy-wise, so he has been carefully managed using the “Slowest Rehab Ever” approach since he sprained his stifles during his X-Games. In other words, I’ve been able to do about one short ride a week. :/
In the spirit of keeping a positive context, though, I can’t afford to travel anyways & I’m a firm believer that 15 minutes of quality work with hills, energy, & correct transitions, is better than 45-60 minutes of mediocre riding when I tire or we both get cranky & sloppy.
We’d be much further along if, you know, someone else paid the mortgage so I could focus on the planned, excruciatingly consistent daily work that blistering would have required. Or even just the lower-key muscle-building without the chemical intervention. Oh yeah, & my own body would return to its super-human state circa 2010 or so.
Encore tired quickly, so our canter work was quite lean-y as he got sore behind. But that didn’t worry me too much, given noted humidity levels (I actually hosed him before riding as both horses were caked in dirty sweat, even standing in the shady run-in all day) paired with to-date infrequent rides.
I’m currently taking some extended leave from work over the next two weeks. I suppose the best category is “recovery leave,” so I can hopefully step off the vicious cycle of utter exhaustion combined with high stress before it eats up any more of me. More realistically, I need a sabbatical, but PhD (Practicality Has Disappeared, hee) was not the route for me!!
|I can has back?|
Speaking of practice, fill me in! You shared your CAN DO goals, how did you do?
Even if you didn’t catch that post on the first round, I’d love to hear about a detail you’ve been working on! Leave a comment, better yet, tell us how you’ve practiced; I’m always excited to see everyone’s ideas & have a chance to try new approaches!!