Heat intolerant athletes competing in warm locations: not such a great idea

Here I am, sitting on the bed, waiting for the AC in the new room to go down to 16o (60 F). A little weary.

Yesterday, the day after I lifted at the WPC South American powerlifting championship, I had a pretty serious hyperthermia episode. As is often the case with the victim, I didn’t realize it right away. All I knew was that I was extremely tired, with an insistent headache, nausea and somewhat dizzy.

It was my friend Carlos Daniel Llosa, who just majored in medicine, who touched me and figured there was something very wrong.

I got into a taxi and headed back to the hotel. The headache was getting worse and I was weaker and weaker. I told the driver that if I fell unconscious, to drive me to the nearest hospital and tell them I had HYPERTHERMIA. I asked him to repeat it.

Fortunately, I arrived safely at the hotel, got into a cold shower drinking ice water for about 20 minutes. The room temperature was around 16o (60 F) then. I slept.

I thought I’d be sufficiently ok for the awards and because there was a meeting called by one of the leaders. Quite stupid of me: as soon as I got back into a warm place, even if it was cooler because it was early evening, I got worse. I could barely climb the podium.

And then (and only then) we realized why I had slumped to the floor after the third (failed) deadlift attempt. And why I had started to shiver. And laugh (confused). And feel very sleepy.

I also understood why everything felt so heavy.

Ok, I’m not going back to discussing results. I am happier and happier with those.

I’m obviously worried with this. I am here, waiting for the temperature to stabilize because the AC in the other room broke. I noticed it had broken because I started feeling really bad again and realized the damn white box was too quiet. And it was 23o (73 F).

So, my hypothalamus has not gone back to normal yet. When will it? Who knows… I only have a few hours to catch my plane back to Brazil, which is not exactly Siberia, but it’s winter there and I feel ok.

I am a heat intolerant person. Every Summer is a torture for me – no matter where. I decided to spend summers in Winter places (this way I will never feel hot again). People are different, they deviate from the norm in every possible variable and it seems I’ve been deviating in temperature tolerance since I was born. I am happy when it snows, I feel like crap when the sun is out. Since forever.

It might have gotten worse during the many years I was severely medicated for neurological conditions. Neuroleptics and other psychotropic drugs impair thermoregulation in mammals. It might have done a permanent job to my brain, who knows.

Although I might have an extreme condition, I’m not exactly a rare case of heat intolerance. And let’s face it: who’s really tolerant to 42o (108 F) ?

I wonder if it’s wise to lift weights in such conditions if one’s hypothalamus does not agree with hot weather. I think not. I think it’s a good idea to check the weather and if you are more of a white Christmas person, just leave it to another opportunity to have fun and meet friends. Lifting is pretty exhaustive and it’s one of the no-no’s for heat stroke risk.

How does that sound?

Thermogeddon: When the Earth gets too hot for humans


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