Keeping Your Cool When Training in the Heat
Happy Summer San Diego – time to bust out your shorts and tanks for summer training time. Lucky for us it doesn’t actually get that hot till August! The perfect time to start training for the Temecula Half Marathon & 5K if you’re using a beginner 12-week half marathon training program is mid August!
Most runners have such a consistent running schedule that few things will be allowed to interrupt it. This is probably truer if you are in the middle of training for an event. Usually this means getting up an extra hour early on a busy day, or maybe running later than you would like. If you are traveling, then packing that running gear is always a must. Unfortunately, even in heat, runners can be so committed to our runs we may choose to hit the pavement in less than desirable temperatures, and put ourselves at risk.
The end of summer tends to warrant hot temps everywhere and not only is it sometimes unpredictable (looks cloudy and then the hot summer sun breaks through midway through the run,) but our lives do not always allow for that crisp early morning run or that cooler evening jog. It is important to be prepared for the heat in these warmer months because our bodies are already working double time during our runs to keep our muscles cool. Add rising temperatures and this could lead to trouble.
Tips for Staying Cool in the Heat:
1. Run in the cooler part of the days if possible. Early morning and the evening can be the best times to go for a run, if your schedule allows. Be sure to take proper nighttime precautions if you choose to run in the evening or at night.
2. Get hydrated and stay that way. It is not only important to replace the fluids you are losing during your runs, but start off hydrated as well. Drink the majority of your water one to two hours BEFORE the run. Then take a small bottle of water and take small sips along the way. You can tell how well your body is hydrated by looking at the color of your urine. If it is clear or pale yellow, your body has efficient hydration. If you get dehydrated during your run, head for shade and get some water.
3. Start off slow on those longer runs. If you have a longer run planned, start off slower than your normal pace. A suggested pace is 30 seconds slower for every 5 degrees over 60° F. Your body will stay cooler longer and you will be able to run a greater distance before your body heat reaches its threshold. Once it reaches its threshold, you will slow down considerably anyways, so you might as well take it slow. During the last part of your run, you can pick up the pace.
4. Dress for the heat. When it comes to keeping cool, the smart dress is loose-fitting clothing. Baggie clothes (especially shirts) will not only give you more sun protection but they help you take advantage of any breeze – including the one you make as you run. Select sport-specific material that helps keep moisture away from your body. Lightweight hats that have moisture wick are best for sun protection and allowing the heat to escape. Did you know a large proportion of your body’s heat is lost through your head? Many runners soak a hat in water and then stick it in the freezer or fridge overnight. This can also help keep the body temperature down during those hot days.
5. Lather on the sunscreen. Be sure to put on that sunscreen with at least a 15 SPF. Don’t forget to make sure that it is sweat proof so that it stays on through all your hard work.
If you feel any signs of overheating or think you may be in trouble (dizziness, headache, profuse sweating, and clamminess), head for shade, and put cold water or a cold ice pack on your head and neck if possible. If you only have your water bottle, place this on the back of your neck until you begin to feel normal. Replenish those fluids! The best cure for heat exhaustion and heat cramps is to replenish your body’s fluids and salt balance. This may require eating some salty foods once you get home.
We all know a treadmill would be much cooler, but heading outside is half the fun! Be smart and stay cool!