In case you didn’t see it, this month’s Runners World magazine has a great article on running in the heat. Since the forecast is for temperatures in the 90s this week in NYC, I though this was a perfect time to share some info about how to be safe and smart when its hot out! Running in the humidity and heat can be especially on hard on those of us with asthma (like me!) so we have to be extra careful.. and always have your inhaler with you when you run! SO important.
First the article talks about heat’s effects on performance. Those of us who run in the heat know all too well about this and the negative effects that heat can have. There are three main physiological effects:
1. Dehydration: This is associated with sodium loss through sweat. This is the most important electrolyte due to the fact that sodium loss is felt earliest and strongest as compared to other electrolytes.
2. Increased heart rate: The heart works harder to cool the body.
3. More blood volume to skin: More blood is being sent to the skin rather than to the muscles required for running.
Although heat is usually a negative part of running and a main culprit of slow race times (kiss those PRs goodbye if the temperature is over 65!), your body CAN adapt to running in the heat! This was news to me. It is possible to “get better” at losing heat from the body, resulting in less sodium and electrolyte loss. Plus, once your body is acclimated to running in the heat, performance improves not only in warm temperatures but in all types of weather as our bodies become more efficient.
So… how can you adapt to running in the heat?
- Proper hydration and electrolyte intake before, during, and after runs
- Water should be your main source throughout the day but also add electrolyte drinks on long runs
- Practice running in the heat, but follow the info in the hydration guide and handling heat guides (below)
- If you live in a cooler climate, train with layers to simulate a warmer environment
- MIND OVER MATTER! Don’t focus on how uncomfortable you are (unless there is a medical emergency, of course). Try not to concentrate on the heat.
Pre-Run: 20-24 oz of water or electrolyte drink
During your run: 4-6 oz every 20 minutes for runs greater than 75 minutes. 8-10 oz is okay for runs from 50-75 minutes or below.
Post-Run: 24-32 oz of electrolyte drink, with carbs for recovery
HANDLING HEAT GUIDE
- Pay attention to your HR: HR shouldn’t increase more than 10 bpm than on easy run days.
- Slow down and get your whole run in.
- Pay attention to your hamstrings (I didn’t know this!): the first sign of dehydration is tight hamstrings. If they are tighter than usual, get yourself some electrolytes!
- Stretch before bed: you are most hydrated and the muscles are warm in the evening.
- Time your fluid intake: it takes 20 min for your body to absorb fluids before running. Drink slowly over a longer period of time to get the most benefit.
- Take a break if you need it!!!
I love this article and think this info is so important for athletes. Its important not to expect to go out there and run the way you do in 50 degree weather without practice and training. Plus, running in the heat takes preparation and awareness of fluid intake which is more difficult than just lacing up and running out the door. But please be smart about this, its easier than you think to get heat exhaustion and nobody wants that! Make sure you always have access to fluids and again, if you have an inhaler, ALWAYS carry it with you! Safe running everyone
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or trainer, the options presented are from Runners World magazine and from my own opinions. Please seek medical attention or advice from a doctor if needed.
What tips do you have for running in the heat?
Do you prefer summer running or winter running?
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