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Feeling Hot Hot Hot…Running in the Heat

Posted Jul 09 2011 10:46am

 

Like it or not the hot weather is upon us but the heat can’t stop us from running.  This morning Luna & I went for a short 3 miler run and it was already uncomfortable out, Dustin told me later that it is 90% humidity right now.  The only thing I could thing of was Amanda running her 20 miler.  Running in hot weather feel so much harder and is very more demanding on the body, because you have to work harder to cool yourself.  Worse, high humidity,  prevent the sweat to evaporate efficiently and your body really struggles to cool itself.  Do you know that humidity can increase the effective ambient tempertuare by as much as 10 degrees?  Crazy ah!

I have some suggestions to help you train safely all summer long.  Before I do that, there are a few things that you should know when running in the heat.  Running foolishly under these circumstances my lead to a variety of heat-related illnesses, like:

DEHYDRATION

When you’re dehydrated, you mouth is dry, sweating may stop, you can experience muscle cramps, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and your heart might start to beat really fast.  Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink because thirstiness means you are already low in fluids.

HEAT CRAMPS

You loose salt in your sweat when running in the heat and you can experience muscle pain and cramps if you are not replenish those electrolytes.  To prevent heat cramps you should drink water and sports drink to replace electrolytes.  If you feel like you are strating to experience heat cramps just stop, get in the shade and try to cool your body with cold water and replace the lost salt.  I usually bring pretzel on my runs, I found that it works pretty good for me.

HEAT EXHAUSTION

Heat exhaustion happens when your body cannot sweat enough to cool itself down.  Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue; goosebumps; weakness; headache; dizziness, or nausea; and the skin is usually cool and pale, but you are probably still sweating.  If you experience any of these symptoms, you MUST stop running.  Get in the shade or in a cool place, drink cool liquids and cool your body with water or with ice if you can find it.

HEAT STROKE

This is the most serious heat-related illness, that if untreated, may well lead to death.  Heat stroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and can elevate your body temperature to 106 F, or higher.  The synthoms are dry, warm and red skin, and a reduction or loss of sweat.  Other symptoms of heat stroke include a rapid pulse, rapid breathing, headache, dizziness, nausea, fainting and confusion.  If you are suffering from heat stroke, you should immediately STOP running and seek medical attention and start to cool your body with ice and cold water.

Tips to Prevent Heat-Related Illness

Common sense is the key to avoiding heat-related illnesses.  Be sure to follow these precautions:

  • The first thing you should do, is pacing.  When running in hot weather you should always adjust your pace and effort accordingly.  Slow your pace down and keep your body temperature below the overheating point.  The RRCA says you can lose up to 10% of your peak performance at just 85 degrees.  So slow down by 10-20% on your first few runs out.
  • Run during the coolest times of the day (early morning or after dusk).  I personally love running in the moring as it’s more quite and less busy. When I trained for my first marathon last summer, I used to go running really early in the morning, on my long runs many times I even left at 4:30 AM to avoid the sun.  A good idea would be to  check the temperature on a daily basis and just be flexible about when you work out, to allow you to have a more comfortable run.
  • Run on shaded trails, roads or run along a breezy beach shoreline. It can be much cooler than running on the streets in your neighborhood.
  • Stay hydrated drinking water all day, not just before or after your run.. Here’s a general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during your runs: You should take in 4 to 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes.  Also pour water over your head to cool your body down. And don’t forget to rehydrate after your run. Your urine should be a light lemonade color, if it is dark yellow, keep rehydrating.
  • Dress accordingly; wear as few clothes as you decently can=)  Try loose fitting, light colored clothing, sunscreen, and sunglasses.  Protect your head from the sun with a lightweight hat or a visor.  You can also get creative and carrie ice under your hat!

Pay attention to your body’s stress signals and if you experience any of the symptoms, stop running, get a cool pale and try to find a way to cool yourself quickly.

What are you tips for exercising in hot weather?


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