In this article and in coming weeks, We will attempt to take on some terms used in the community that we believe are being misused, first up in this “Terminology Series” is hypothermia.
The first Tough Mudder that I ever participated in was in February of 2012. The temperature was 28F when the event began. The temperature never rose above 40F degrees all day, and it was also occasionally windy. About a mile in to that Mudder, we encountered an obstacle named “Arctic Enema”. Jumping into a dumpster filled with ice is almost never a good idea. Jumping in when the air outside is colder than the water is even dumber. When I went underneath those wooden beams to get from one side to the other, my head experienced something it had never had before, I thought it might actually implode.
I came up on the other side of that beam and truly thought I might die. I could not get out of that giant dumpster fast enough. I actually jumped out of the sides because a few extra inches to the end would have taken too long.
Tough Mudder thankfully had a bonfire lit a few feet beyond the dumpsters. My friends and I stood by it and warmed up the best we could before continuing on and finishing. I later learned that many people did not finish the course that weekend. They were pulled into medical tents as a result from suffering from hypothermia.
In recent months, I see this word pop up almost weekly when racers describe their weekend experiences. There are many races that involve cold weather, many of these races involve cold weather and being wet. In some of these races , someone may have even handed you a space blanket. However, so you know, hypothermia did not occur.
Shivering means you’re cold – its the first stage of hypothermia. Try to get warm. Most people never progress past this stage, but claiming hypothermia here is pretty weak. For example, my neighbor shivers a bit when he walks his dog in the morning. However, he has never said to me “Bro, had to bring in Mr. Wiggles pretty quick this morning, was going hypothermic”
Its when you stop shivering that you have reached a dangerous level of hypothermia and should seek medical attention if possible.
If you want to learn more about hypothermia, read out Napoleon and his troops’ retreat from Russia in 1812. Many of the French troops were dressed for Summer in a war that went on well into Winter and thousands died. For a more recent, OCR related example, check into James Appleton’s ordeal from this year’s Tough Guy UK. He could barely speak or walk from the unbearable cold, yet somehow managed a 3rd place finish. This video and article will fill you in nicely.
I believe many athletes now believe the word “hypothermia” means “I ran a race and it was kind of cold”.
Terminology Part II – Next Up “Bonk”