Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hot Weather Running Tips

Since I've spent the summer training for an ultra marathon I think I've amassed enough tried and true tips for running in hot weather. My first tip is, of course, try to avoid running in really hot weather (run in the early morning, on an indoor track or in the evening if possible). But when all else fails or you are actually trying to acclimate to the heat then maybe some of the following tips will help make your run a bit more enjoyable:

  • Keep your run to under an hour (if possible), or break it up over the course of the day into smaller chunks. This gives the sun less time to cause heat exhaustion, sun stroke or severe sun burns.
  • Wear Sunscreen. Always. Even if its a bit cloudy. Make sure you wear the "sport" or "water proof" sunscreen as any other kind will be quickly wiped away once you start to sweat.
  • Bring water with you, if you are running for an hour or less. Bring an electrolyte drink if you plan to be out for more than an hour ( a general rule). This replenishes the salt you've lost during the extended run. If you hate to take hydration with you on a run, make sure you take some change to buy some from a gas station or corner store en route. I'll usually bring both; hydration and some change-just in case.
  • Wear (or bring) some form of ID with you. Not just because its hot out-you never know what may happen out on the road so just in case you are too exhausted to remember your name this will give someone a helping hand to help YOU out.
  • Dress as if it is 5 degrees hotter than it actually is. Trust me, you'll warm up.
  • Wear a hat, a visor or something on your head. Not only does it provide sun protection but dipping it in a cold stream of water feels really nice on a hot day.
  • Do a "systems check" every half hour. How's your breathing-is it labored more than usual? How do your legs and arms feel?-are they dragging like weights or still peppy? Are you thirsty or hungry? etc. If anything doesn't pass the check consider cutting your run a bit short to avoid injury that may cost you more time down the road.
  • Run slower. By about a minute per mile-depending of course on how heat acclimatized you may already be. If you really need to get that speed session in, go to an indoor track or run on a treadmill. Speed sessions can be pretty dangerous during very hot days as you are constantly elevating your heart rate. Combine that with heat stress and you might put your heart in a bad position.
  • Find a shady path...no don't run into the "shady" part of town, try and find a tree-lined path or road to run on. I find in the city there is usually one side of the street that gets more shade than another.
  • If you have to run hills try and run the uphill portion early on in your run. You are less mentally tired, less heat exhausted, it works better for your whole body.
Happy hot weather running!

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