It's the time of year where temperatures plummet, and the danger of catching a chill or something more serious is very real.
Starting to feel clumsy and confused? Did you have the shivers, and then they stopped? Hypothermia is defined as body temperature below 95F or 35C, but the risk of falling down, getting lost, or injury is much higher even in the pre-hypothermic state due to loss of coordination and compromised decision-making. Even in fall, spring, or summer it can be a danger, when the warm sun can lead you to dress very lightly, and especially at higher altitudes.
These conditions increase a runner's risk factors for hypothermia:
* High altitude - due to thinner air
* Night time - makes you sleepy
* Bad weather or fast changing conditions
* Unfamiliar terrain - getting lost or spending longer than expected without adequate gear
* Calorie deficit - by insufficient fuelling or GI distress
Recognize the symptoms:
* Loss of dexterity
* Stiff and unresponsive limbs
* Feeling dizzy or light headed
* Increased urination
* Drowsy or dull
* Blurred vision
Don't put your faith in being able to "just run through it" or "go faster to keep warm" - that might work for one or two factors, but if multiple things go wrong you can easily get into trouble.
* Be realistic about your fitness level
* Acclimate to the conditions
* Take more food & water than you will need
* Take extra layers
* Put on extra layers early
* Run with a partner
* Make sure someone knows where you are!
For more information, tips, and stories read Feeling Frozen
in Trail Runner Magazine.