A couple of months ago I looked at my training and race calendar, and had the not so bright idea of signing up for a late June race. Enticement included a Polar insulated water bottle, a stained glass medal,very unusual AG awards(dolphins), and it was a small race in a pretty Ponte Vedra Beach neighborhood. We had done this race before and I had won(first woman overall) in 24:34. No chance of that this year, the course record was now 18:00. And it was starting late (8:00 a m) and the temperature was 84 degrees at the start. You know how much I love heat.
Off topic…I had tried yoga with a friend a couple of weeks before because I thought it was a good idea to cross train as a runner. You know build up your core and all that. Well after setting up my yoga mat and getting ready to have a relaxing but challenging time, they turned up the heat in the studio. Supposedly it gets rid of the toxins in your body. I felt so bad for anyone next to me or behind me, they were getting rained on from all the toxins I released that day! Not doing that again.
Again stressing that heat and me are not fast friends.
So back to this race, it’s humid and hot and I’m in survival mode. How do I get to point A from point B without dying? My trusty run walk run strategy helped me get through the race with minor discomfort( no nausea and no dizziness). 27:58 and 3rd in my AG group! Okay a day later, I have runner’s amnesia and glad to say I ran this race(I do that a lot by the way…).
Currently I am training for a Fall marathon and that means training big mileage for the hottest times of the year. So how do we runners survive and live to run another day? Here are my heat tips…
Gotta run? Run early.
Our group runs are typically at 7:00 a m, but we tend to get up at dark thirty to run because the overnight temps are cooler, and no sun beating down on us mercilessly. After 9:00 a m, it is getting too warm( after the Big Bang 5k, the temps were steadily climbing and had reached 88 degrees). The earlier the better, but try to run with a group and not by yourself. Always wear reflective or blinking lights so drivers will see you if you run early in the morning. White clothes will not help you get seen. Headlamps, knuckle lights, etc. are all good choices to ensure you are safe and seen.
What you put in.
Water. It quenches your thirst, but you need to supplement it on your runs or rides too. You need to get your electrolytes in balance because when you sweat heavily, you lose water through your skin which can lead to dehydration, heat cramps, and eventually heat stroke. So what other choices? Nuun( I like strawberry lemonade or watermelon) hydration electrolyte tablets are a good way to put in what you lose when you sweat. Some people like Tailwind endurance fuel which helps with hydration and electrolyte and energy because of it’s mild taste. It also has never upset my stomach when I’ve drank it. BCAA powder is also a hydration energy fuel that is easy on the tummy. I like fruit punch. They usually sell these at your local running store or Sports Nutrition store. If you haven’t been to one lately, then you can also try diluting Gatorade. Unfortunately this energy drink always upsets my stomach(stomach cramps are not fun during a 13.1).
When it’s time to move it indoors.
Some people love the heat, but I don’t know many people who can endure the heat and poor air quality. Summer is prime time for people who have asthma to be careful. Humidity, ozone, and air pollution from cars, smoke from forest fires, etc. can contribute to unhealthy ranges. Usually weather forecasters will alert the viewer of these levels. If you are prone to breathing difficulties, it might be a good day to do some weight training or the indoor track. Play it safe and wait until the air quality improves.
Shaded vs the desert.
Whether it’s running or cycling, I try to opt for routes that are shaded. Why? It’s cooler and you’re not getting the full effects of the sun. When doing track workouts, at least during summer months, I gravitate towards earlier times because there is no shade on any tracks I’ve encountered. Running at the beach? I opt for shaded neighborhoods. No way am I running on the beach unless I am running the Summer Beach Run or the beach portion of Tour de Pain…yes even I lose my mind and think it will be fun or…yum! Tijuana Flats at the end!
Cooling towels, Keep it Chill tanks from Running skirts, cooling vests, cooling sleeves; the lists goes on. I know that wicking shirts as opposed to cotton anything, quality socks like My Soxy Feet, Drymax, swiftwick, are necessary for no blisters. Chafing protection is important because wet clothes vs friction can equal to a very painful shower. Bodyglide or Goldbond are good choices. Use it before you exercise. Wicking visor or hat helps keep you cool too, and keeps the sweat out of your eyes. Thank goodness for all these items, I don’t know how people could run before these were available.
I have several Summer races yet to do, and 29 miles yet to run. If you choose to be outside doing a physical activity, then do so safely and have fun! See you out there.
Remember it’s about the journey not just the destination,