This weekend we ran our longest training run to date – 16 miles! Lately San Diego weather has been absolutely perfect – for most people that is. For runners, it’s been a little on the warm side. While 75 degrees doesn’t sound too miserable, runners are always told to dress for runs as though it is 15-20 degrees warmer due to the fact that the body heats up internally during a run. So basically, if it’s 75 and sunny in San Diego it feels like 90 and sweltering inside my body.
After running 16 miles, most of which were down a long, flat, boring highway on Coronado Island called the Silver Strand, in very warm weather this Saturday, I decided to do some research on running in the heat. Also, this blog was partially inspired by Robin’s recent blog post about running in the Florida heat. Last, this weekend I will be otherwise engaged and won’t be able to join my normal Saturday morning group run. Luckily, my boss is allowing me to leave at 2 p.m. on Friday to run my scheduled 18 miles. Even more fortunate – Mike has agreed to run it with me. The bad news? It’s supposed to be 73 degrees on Friday and we’ll be running right in the middle of the day.
How The Body Works Differently in Heat
I began writing this blog yesterday and ironically this morning our running coach sent out an email and included a link to a blog with some info on running in the heat. It was very interesting (see it here ). Based on this blog and other online reserach, I came up with some of the ways our bodies change when the temperature gets over 65 degrees (yes 65 degrees seems cool, but like I said – it feels like running in 80 !):
- When the temperature gets over 65 degrees, your body physically can’t get rid of the heat as fast as you are producing it, resulting in a rise in core body temperature.
- A rise in temperature also decreases the time it takes for you to start sweating, dipping into your precious water reserves early (as compared to a run under 65 degrees where you won’t really start heating until until 30-45 minutes of running).
- As your body temperate goes up, it triggers a rapid dispersion of blood into the capillaries of the skin which reduces the amount of water that it can hold and disperse to your muscles.
- Less water dispersed to your muscles means the receive less water and nutrients.
- Less water and nutrients increases the time it takes for your body to remove lactic acid build up.
- And last, lactic acid = fatigue.
- Fatigue = a grouchy, slow runner!
10 Tips For Running in the Heat
- Schedule your runs in the early morning or late evening (in humid weather, early morning is always better).
- Hydrate BEFORE your run (your urine should be light yellow).
- During the run, aim to drink 16-28 ounces of fluid PER HOUR. It’s better to carry a water bottle or wear an uncomfortable fuel belt than end up cutting your run short from exhaustion!
- Find a course that involves shade and run on the side of the street that is shaded, if there is one.
- Drink or eat salt. If you are drinking a lot of water and not adding any salt back, you can suffer from hyponatremia. Sports drinks with electrolytes contain salt but some runners even carry salt packets and get their goodness straight from the source!
- Don’t wear cotton clothing and wear as little as possible. Purchase moisture-wicking clothing that literally will remove the water from building up on your skin and warming up.
- Pour water on your head! It really does help (but watch out for too much water as it can cause chaffing if your shorts get wet)!
- Drink the coldest water possible.
- Practice in the heat – if you race day may be a warm day, be sure to practice some shorter runs in the heat and then work your way up to longer runs.
- Wear sunscreen! Sunburn can further dehydrate you.
Look out for signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps and hyponatremia. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, are disoriented, have stopped sweating when you know you should be, have goose bumps in hot weather or your skin feels clammy, stop exercising, get out of the sun and seek medical attention.
Heat Here We Come!
This Friday I plan to carry a water bottle along with a baggie with a couple of scoops of Cytomax so that I can mix it in during one of our water stops (we are running along the water mostly so there are several public restrooms). There is plenty of sodium in my Cytomax sports drink and my GU packets to get me through the run. And of course, I plan to cover myself in sunscreen and drink plenty of water the morning and evening before the run. If anything, this could be great practice for the actual race. Atlhough June is typically very cloudy and on the cool side in San Diego, you never know what kind of curve ball mother nature is going to throw you! And with a 6:30 wave start and an estimated 4:00-4:30 finish time, we won’t be finished running as late as 11 a.m.!
Wish us luck!