Exhaustion / overexertion and nausea

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Bob W, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    Anyone else? What do you do about it? Prevention, recovery?
    I think it's rather common when pushing too hard. No?
  2. sasha


    Feb 28, 2006
    I find that its much easier to prevent it in the first place then to deal with it later. I do many hikes over 10 miles in the summer time here in CA. Most of them will be between 1,000 to 4,000 elevation gain. I learned the hard way to not push my self too hard. So when I feel tired I would stop for 10min. Drink lots of water and when I see some nice shade out of the sun I always stop for a few min. You just need to get your heart rate down a little and let your body cool off somewhat.

    If you got to the point of over heating or your legs feel soo heavy that you just cant walk. Find some place to rest and stay there for an hour or two. Just cause you feel better in half an hour don't mean your body is rested. I carry Gatorade powder and mix it with water about 1/3 of what it says and drink it every time I make a stop. I also had an old timer advice me to take some baby Aspirin when at high elevation or when you are tired. Oh and much on something every hour of so. I like to take about a 1/3 of a handful of nuts or dry fruit, Wash it down with water.
  3. sideways


    Feb 19, 2013
    Limit sun exposure. I would go so far as to say that there really is no reason to have direct sun exposure out on the trail. Put on sunscreen, layer up the loose fitting UPF 50 clothing, and wear a wide brimmed hat with neck cover.

    Stay hydrated. If your urine smells bad or has a dark color you are not hydrated. If you haven't urinated in a while you are not hydrated.

    Know your limits as to how far, how fast, under what conditions to push yourself. Obviously do not exceed your limits and be aware that you will not be at full performance during adverse conditions.

    If things start to suck... Take a break in the shade, eat something, and re-hydrate. It might not be a bad idea to actually go through the motions of making a cup of tea or something that requires preparation just so you are sure to take a long enough break. I like salty stuff after a lot if sweating.

    If it is bad you will need to end the trip and seek medical assistance.

    The sport drink thing may or may not work. I'm not convinced they are anything but a great marketing idea by some scheming salesman... On difficult outings I have brought a bottle and mixed a little into my water supply now and then. It gave me a psychological boost if nothing else.
  4. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    A person needs to try to stay in some sort of good physical condition. It solves many problems, especially when you over-exert yourself as we all do from time to time. The recovery time is quicker if you are in moderately good shape.

    Yes to staying hydrated and setting a steady moderate pace in the woods if for no other reason than when you get really tired, you over look things that could be dangerous to your safety.
  5. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    Yesterday's hike was 14 miles, gaining elevation from 8,000 to 10,000', and included a 280' climb out of a steep canyon that became impassible.
    Kicked my ass. :(
  6. OwenM


    Oct 26, 2000

    Happens to me a lot while mountain biking, since I've been turning short rides into a HIIT workout by staying in the same gear the whole way through(and a higher gear every week) in an attempt to boost my fitness on the bike. Over the summer I've gone from ~1.5hr to <40min on my local trail, so it must be working!
    Sometimes I'll feel like I'm having a heart attack on the uphills, and I have to get off and walk the bike, but recovery is just a breather and some water away. Once my heart rate gets back to something resembling normal, I'm right back at it. I have to exercise more patience on longer rides, though. Once a week I've been doing 25+ trail miles on the bike at a state park, and then it becomes a matter of pacing myself so that I don't burn out too soon.

    Likewise a different story when it's an all day every day thing like backpacking. Carbs before, and carbs during(there's a reason gels have become popular with endurance athletes).
    Taking in a lot of carbs beforehand has made a big difference to me lately for preventing fatigue. My new "normal" while backpacking is to take time for my morning oatmeal, that in the past has often gone untouched, and also to eat my dinner in the afternoon, then hike some more.
    I kind of hate it, though. They're both a PITA, since I don't like lingering in the morning or stopping short of my destination for the day.
    At least dinner is one less thing to do around camp later, and I find I hike much stronger after a high carb meal. In addition to my usual trail mix, almonds and granola bars, I also carry snack bags with several ounces of Reeses Pieces, which are saved for each day's biggest climb.
    Big difference in energy compared to when I'm intentionally stingy with the carbs in an effort to work fat loss into the mix.
    When planning trips, I've typically thought of myself as a 12-16 mile per day hiker, and expect 2/3 of that to be done by midday, after which I'm usually dragging from not having had a real meal since the night before. Last week I threw in what was supposed to be a last minute overnighter on the tail end of a 2 week vacation spent backpacking. Turned it into a dayhike, knocking out 22 miles between lunchtime and sundown in spite of spending an hour screwing around at a lake. When I got done, I was still going strong, and felt like I could have hiked another couple of hours.
    Carbs before, carbs during...more carbs is all I did different. 'Course having spent most of the previous two weeks on the trail probably didn't hurt!:rolleyes:
  7. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    I certainly could have eaten better on the trail yesterday. Appetite is the first thing affected though when I become exhausted.

    Breathing and heart rate were fine. They'd elevate but easily return to normal with a 2-minute water or photo break.

    Had plenty of water, but became concerned when it stopped staying down. Luckily I wasn't coming down with anything, and feel fine today.

    I used to carry some sort of energy food, like Cliff bars but they were gooey, like very soft taffy. They were easy to get down on hard days when solid foods failed. I'd order some but don't recall what they were.
  8. Boggs


    Feb 27, 2007

    How often are you hiking at at that elevation? And when you are looking for a quick pick me up without a long delay have you tried the gels from Cliff and Gatorade, taste isn't really that great but they absorb quickly
  9. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    I live at 6700', and have lived for months at a time over 9,000'. No stranger to elevation, but it does take some re-acclimation when going up higher.
    Most of the parks and public lands around here have base elevations of 7,000 - 10,000' with peaks from 10,000 - 13,000'.

    When I go to Australia for a month and come home, I get winded climbing the house stairs for the first few days. :)

    The name of the food just occurred to me while eating lunch, Power Gel. Gotta get some.
    Also, the natural fruit strips aren't available around here, only the candy fruit-roll stuff. Need to order some Fruit Leathers if I can.
  10. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Prevention is key in my mind, severe discomfort is doing damage in my mind. And to think of things another way, if you keep yourself feeling good, you are less likely to sustain an injury, as well as leaving yourself more margin if something does go wrong. the Carbs vs. Protein debate will rage on, swinging with the trends, I find that I do better on a more even balanced diet, high carbs just don't agree with me. I think its more important to figure out what you need, rather than taking advice from someone who also has a sample size of one. As far as sugar and electrolytes, I tend to mix sport drinks to about half strength, but again, thats just me. And I have no problem with eating some gummy candies on the trail, although from an efficiency standpoint, they are heavy for what you get. I also don't have to monitor my day to day diet that much, so that is another factor to consider.

    when it comes to heat stress and exhaustion, keep in mind that you can over-heat even if well hydrated, you can run low on electrolytes or go over, regardless of hydration level. You can get muscle fatigue and depletion by pushing too hard when its cooler, or reduced efficiency from poor fitness (my personal case) Keep in mind that you can sweat out water faster than your body can take it in, and different things affect how fast your body can absorb and excrete that water. It can take hours to get back to a balanced state, but less than an hour to get dehydrated or otherwise out of balance, especially if its hot, you are working hard, and also trying to digest food. Conditioning can make up for a lot of it, but physiology is the same for everyone, above a certain core temp, things just stop working right, no matter who you are, or how conditioned.
  11. OwenM


    Oct 26, 2000
    There's no debate, and it's not one vs the other. Nothing new about any of this stuff, or any mystery involved.
    More a matter of type and timing, based on what you want to accomplish. I'm not motivated enough to plan it out all the time(it's not like I'm a competitive athlete), or even a decent fraction of the time. Fitting the habits to the goals is fairly simple if the goals are consistent, though.
    I just complicate matters by having conflicting priorities from day to day, even for the same activity, and being too lazy to adjust my diet accordingly...diet is a lot easier to ignore than it is to get excited about.
  12. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I meant more that no matter who you ask, there are so many different sets of advice that it may seem as though there is some actual informed discussion going on, rather than the complete conjecture and misinformation that is the flotsam of the internet.

    Now don't hear that as me saying you are in anyway wrong, because I'm not. I'm more likely to be wrong on more things. Its just that I don't think there is one set of rules for everyone. I'm also in no way athletic, just a dude who lucked into some skinny genetics. So my advice is just as likely to be as incorrect as anyone else's. All I do know is that the amount we actually know about human nutrition is shockingly limited, and a lot of things are based on very poorly designed studies. I think its a testament to biology that our bodies have such an insanely wide operating envelope and that we have no idea where in that range most people are from a day to day basis.

    Now I will say that you are obviously far fitter than I am as I would not ever plan on a 16 mile day let alone a 22km one. All I know is that if I try to load up on carbs, I just don't feel well. So maybe its an efficiency thing.
  13. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    Our moto: Eat before you're hungry. Drink before you're thirsty. Hike within yourself.

    Nibble and snack constantly. We make gorp and store it in the plastic jars the peanuts come in. Makes grabbing a handful very easy. Any food that gives a mixture of carbs and protien is good.

    Drink a bottle of water in the morning after breakfast. Drink a bit regularly while moving. If you're not peeing clear, you're not hydrated. After lunch, we often move to Gatorade powder, though we cut it on the light side to manage against nausea.

    If you can't talk easily, you're moving too fast. It helps to learn your best pulse and stay below that. Take regular, short stops. 5 minutes every hour or so.

    Heat is its own hell.

  14. OwenM


    Oct 26, 2000
    It's appalling how much bad info is out there.

    Efficiency and availability.
    We're all different, yes, but our bodies function in the same manner. You may just be getting too full, and taking in too many carbs at one time.
    I used the term "timing" before. Timing your carbohydrate intake so that the energy is available when you need it is what gets missed out on, just like protein, which is another good example. Most people think protein shakes are for upping one's overall protein intake, but they're not. They're for delivering the protein in an easily digestible form when the body most needs it, and are mostly wasted if not taken in the "post workout window" after anaerobic exercise when the muscles need it for repair and recovery.

    For the sake of this discussion, "hitting the wall", "bonking", etc. happens when you've used up readily available energy in the form of carbohydrates, and your body starts running off stored fat, which it uses less efficiently.
    Simple and complex carbs can be looked at as short/quick and longer term energy, since simple carbs, like from sugar, are metabolized/made available quickly, but are also used up quickly. Complex carbs take longer to process, so provide energy over a longer period of time.

    Burning fat is less efficient for the amount of energy it provides, but I often do it intentionally when hiking to offset what a glutton I am the rest of the time. Depriving the body of carbs and forcing it to burn stored fat is how diets like the Atkins one work, and that's fine, but fatigue can definitely become a factor with exertion of any significant duration-I'm a prime example when I minimize carbs while backpacking, and slow considerably later in the day as a result.

    This thread is healthy for me. I thought about it while grocery shopping this morning, and actually did it right for a change, splitting up the diet by time and activity level for the day. Maybe I'll ride faster next week :D

    Edit: btw, that 22 mile dayhike where I finished strong was after starting on a double portion of oatmeal and having three granola bars two hours apart throughout the hike. I was worn out from NOT taking in enough carbs the preceding week and a half. I tend to lose my appetite on the trail, and take advantage of that on the trips I take once or twice a year. Dropped a little over 10lbs of body fat this time, and since I'm not carrying as much muscle mass as I have in the past am now at my lowest body weight in about 22yrs:thumbup:
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  15. AreBeeBee


    Sep 3, 2013
    I do day hikes in the Phoenix, Arizona, area throughout the year. Some involve vertical distances of 1,000 feet or slightly more; roundtrip distances are 5 to 10 miles, max. I have two trail speeds: slow, and slower.

    Summer temps there routinely go over 100° ("hot" begins when there's three digits and none are a 0). (Local joke.) The killer time is monsoon season, roughly July through September, when relative humidities go above 50% even in the hottest part of the day. At those times of year, you get out on the trail by daybreak and are done by mid-morning.

    My practice is to drink about a quart of plain water before and during the hike, then drink a quart of Gatorade (Powerade if it's on sale) when done — I leave it in the car at the trailhead — warm 'Ade works as well as cold — followed usually by another quart of 'Ade spaced out over the rest of the day. That leaves me feeling recharged and unthirsty by evening. (I.e., hike-day consumption is 3/4 of a gallon.)

    But note the type of activity: short, moderately strenuous hikes, followed by retreat to air-conditioned space with easy access to liquids for rehydration and electrolyte restoration. Taking long distance or multi-day hikes would call for a different strategy. But the key (for me at least) lies in the speeds: slow, and slower.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  16. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    Aug 2, 2014
    If you're conditioned to a proper diet - as in well-rounded meals with a balance of carbs, protein, and fat, without any refined junk - then what you're craving is probably what your body needs. Just make sure it is as high quality as you can get with the least amount of processing involved.

    As for electrolyte drinks. They do work and you can make your own solution. The marketing bit comes in with the amount, you only really need them when you are dehydrated, and then only about every six hours. They work in that dehydration involving sweating means a loss of salts and other minerals in the body, so your body tries to regulate to these salt levels. If the body retained more water then your salts would be at too low of a percentage, so drinking only water doesn't work - your kidneys just flush out the water and you aren't rehydrated. Raising your salts allows you to begin rehydrating.

    More of first aid than anything else though. Good food along with water, frequent short breaks, and knowing your limits is the best. Also chocolate milk or hot chocolate will work.
  17. baldtaco-II


    Feb 28, 2006
    Like Owen I get it worse on the bike. I'll push and push and even when I've got nearly nothing left I'll spin on 24/34. That shifts it all to the lungs. Very nearly helpless, shaking, gasping, may have puked, bug-eyed mess. Still haven't bonked though, and I never want to. I do loads of cereal. I do a lot of granola especially. I wish bananas were lighter 'cos they are fantastic.
  18. Woods Walker

    Woods Walker

    Jun 3, 2010
    I used to get beat up easily but less now. Among other things I try to jog 5-10 miles a day 5x a week This week I did 40 miles. So better physical conditioning helps greatly. When camping out for days especially in high heat or cold I find exposure is a death of 1,000 cuts. If you can get a reset, cool off in the summer/warm in the winter the rest of the day tends to go better. Drink enough water, proper hydration is just as important during winter. Try to get enough sleep as well. This can be a challenge if the night is too hot and muggy or too cold. Toss in unfamiliar sleeping arrangements and sleepless nights are a very real possibility. Who hasn't had the 3- 4 am dang I wish the sun was up experience. So I think the bottom line is the cure for exposures is many positive factors just as the cause is often multiple factors.
  19. mtwarden


    Sep 27, 2009
    Pushing very hard will generally have consequences of some kind. I've experienced terrible nausea in several ultra events I've been in; the worse part is you know you need calories and water in, but with nausea very tough to impossible to do, thus creating a terrible spiral downward

    I've found for myself that cutting back calories (~100-150/hour) from what is concerned the "norm" (~250-350/hour) for ultras has helped. I've also gotten away from drink mixes, gels, cubes and such and have gone to more natural choices- figs, dates, nut butters, honey, etc. This change has helped as well.

    Carbohydrates needs to be the majority of your fuel- complex carbohydrates specifically, but longer events/hikes/bikes/etc require some protein as well as some fat- for me roughly 70/15/15 percents works pretty well. Long events I do take electrolytes as well.

    For post recovery ideally around 3-4:1 complex carbs to protein and ideally within 30-60 minutes of completion; surprisingly (or maybe not so) plain old chocolate milk does a pretty good job :D
  20. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    All of the recent and ongoing comments have been helpful. Thanks. :thumbup:

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