This week has been really hot and humid here in Chicagoland, with temperatures in the 80s to high 90s. And yet, we runners are still out there, training for our next race or just enjoying the outdoors and the feeling of freedom that comes during the journey.
Are we a little nuts to be out there exerting ourselves when the mercury is rising and the sun is beaming down upon us? Well, perhaps a bit. :)
But the reality is, we do not head out there "willy-nilly" without concern. We pay attention to the situation, and prepare ourselves to handle the conditions we will face. We all want to arrive back home after a good run, healthy and safe. So what do we do?
The following is reprinted with permission from Vicky, a good friend and racing teammate, who has a cool blog site that covers her awesome food recipes (so very yummy) as well as tips and comments about her other passion: running! I thought they were worth posting here. If you have some time, check out her blog!
Hot weather running tips
The weather has been hot, sticky and humid for the last few days. That’s great if you can sit poolside or on your deck with a lemonade in hand, but what if running is part of your daily routine? You might be wondering how you can run in this weather. Here are a few of my tips for running in the heat.
Hydrate and carry fluids: Make sure you regularly drink water the day before you run, and throughout the week. I normally carry my fluids using a four bottle Fuel Belt. I generally have two bottles of water and then two bottles of Gatorade or some other electrolyte beverage. I also make sure there’s a water fountain or a store like Starbucks, McDonald’s or Subway where I can stop in and refill my water bottles if I need to.
Check the forecast: You might normally do your long run on Sunday morning, but what if Saturday turns out to be the cooler of the two days? Check the weather forecast and be prepared to adjust your run schedule accordingly. Save your shorter run for a hotter day.
Run in the early morning or at dusk: If you want to run outside, you may have to run early in the morning or later at night to avoid the heat. If you happen to be running in the dark, make sure you have reflective clothing and a headlamp so that cars can see you. I suggest forgoing the headphones or turning down the volume on your iPod so you’re aware of your surroundings: you never know who or what could be lurking in the bushes.
Dress appropriately: Remember my other post ‘10 Tips for New Runners‘ where I said you don’t have to get moisture wicking clothing right away. Well, if you want to run outside on a hot day, you’re going to want some so you’re not weighed down by sweat drenched shirts and shorts. Moisture wicking clothing pulls the sweat from your skin, allowing it to evaporate more easily. Also wear clothing that’s loose-fitting – you want the air to get in between your skin and the clothing in order to keep you cool. Light colored clothing also helps to reflect the heat.
Protect yourself from the sun: Wear sunscreen. Yes, it’s an extra step but if you’re outside for more than a few minutes, you could easily get a sunburn. Make sure you use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, and that’s sweat proof. Use sunscreen even on a cloudy day, as harmful UVA rays are still present. Wear a visor and take sunglasses to protect your eyes and face.
Stay in the shade: Is there one side of the street that provides more shade than the other? Stick to the shady side of the street and conserve your energy. You’d be surprised how much more exhausting it can be running in direct sunlight than running in the shade. If you have access to a trail, try running there instead of on the road or the sidewalk. Concrete and asphalt trap the heat from the sun and reflect it back onto you.
Go slower: When running a slower pace it may take the same amount of effort as running your normal pace in cooler weather. Don’t go flat out on a hot day and get into trouble. If you’re usually a continuous runner, take a walking break or two.
Run indoors on the treadmill or at an indoor track: If the only time you can run is at lunch time, play it safe and run indoors. It might be boring running on a treadmill or track, but at least you’ll your mileage in. Besides, if you run on a treadmill, you can bring your favorite shows or movies on your tablet or phone and get caught up. That’s not so bad!
Listen to your body: The good news is that your body does eventually adapt to the heat and humidity, but don’t be afraid to skip a run on an extremely hot day. There’s nothing wrong with that. Once I made it 6 miles into a run and felt so exhausted that I had to call someone to come and pick me up. A ride home with a friend is better than a ride in an ambulance after passing out, but don’t be a hero – heat stroke isn’t worth the risk. Some of the signs and symptoms related to heat illnesses can include:
- dry skin
If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Vicky has some great tips here to which all runners should pay close attention. I am an early morning runner for the most part, which has been very helpful this past week, when even at 6AM the temps were in the high 60s to mid 70s. Even at 7PM, the temps were in the 80s and I preferred to avoid those temps.
Your muscles are working hard during exercise, especially running. Muscles generate a lot of heat inside your body. The body has to dissipate that heat by sweating and radiating the heat outward. Of course, when the outside temperature is hot, it makes it harder for the body to regulate all that internal heat.
This is why when dressing to go out for a run, you should dress as if the outside temperature is about 10 degrees WARMER than it really is. Because once you get moving, that is how it is going to feel to your body. This tip is also just as important when it is cool outside because people tend to wear too much clothing. Either way, you can overheat.
It takes your body about 10-14 days to acclimate itself to running in warm/hot weather conditions. Give yourself that amount of time -- listen to your body so you know how it feels as it makes the adjustment. My Road Runners club has a good article on their site that talks about the Heat Index and heat-related disorders. It is a must-read if you are going to be doing a lot of outdoor running in high heat conditions.
Run happy; Run safely; Enjoy the freedom!