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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
By Brian Bailey

Heat and hydration forging men of steel


If working in the heat makes you a better football team, then this East Carolina squad should be in good shape come September.

Last week the squad worked out on days that featured heat indexes of 108, 111 and 108 degrees.

Today’s forecast is calling for actual temperatures in triple digits!

Some might say that it isn’t safe to work out in those kinds of conditions. But it’s that heat that gets players to the level of conditioning they’ll need for the season.

East Carolina is blessed to have a class act like Mike Hanley as the school’s head trainer. Hanley is as good of a person as he is a trainer, and he takes ever precaution with the athletes.

“One of the things that we try to do is educate them,” Hanley said recently. “They know that if they don’t work out in the summer and they are not lifting and they are not getting in shape, then when practice does start in August there is no way they are going to be able to stay up with the rest of the team.”

Workouts for all college teams are considered voluntary. Still, athletes know that it’s the summer heat that defines them as athletes when the season rolls around.

“The heat is so oppressive in August,” Hanley continued. “Plus, they’ll put the equipment on which will raise their body temperature even more. They’ll have to have that period of acclimatization to get used to everything.”

Keeping a player's fluid balance in safe territory is a big factor in averting heat related accidents. Hanley says it's all about promoting the intake of liquids before, during and after workouts.

“The main thing that prevents heat problems is proper hydration and if you wait until you start to exercise before you start to drink, it’s too late. Thirst is a terrible indication of when it’s time to drink,” Hanley explained.

“By the time you start to feel thirsty, you’ve already lost a percentage of your body weight. Those are the types of things that lead the body temperature up, which create problems in the first place."

Hanley says indoctrinating the players about the science of adequate fluid intake is the key. They must know what to do to stay hydrated, and just like in a real game, they have to execute the game plan.

“One of the things that we try to do is to really educate our players on hydrating during the day, so by the time they come here, they’ve already taken a significant amount of fluids," Hanley said. "They’ll continue to drink when they work out, and they’ll continue to drink when they leave.”

East Carolina uses a simple formula to help the athletes understand how to stay hydrated.

The athletes are instructed to keep an eye on their body weight. They are to drink 20 fluid ounces for each pound of body weight that they lose during any workout session.

“That gives them a guideline to just how much fluid they should be taking in,” Hanley said.

While the workouts are voluntary, Hanley says that the expectations of their peers convinces most if not all of the athletes to work hard before the season.

“I think there is pressure from their teammates because I think one of the things they work on this time of the year is team unity issues and everybody working together,” Hanley said.

Hanley wrapped up with this observation: “The hard work they’re putting in now is going to pay off in the long run. This is the time of year that you lay the foundation for what you’re going to do in August.”

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02/23/2007 01:31:58 AM

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