Danger: Heat Zone

5 Jul

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July! I didn’t race, but I did a sweaty speed workout on the track in the morning before the BBQing began. To those who did race, I hope you stayed cool, ran fast, and enjoyed the festivities.

trackredwhiteblue wm

Hey, look! Red, white, and blue for Independence Day!

As I was at EMS the other day to grab a couple of things, the July issue of Women’s Running caught my eye. Without even glancing at this month’s features, I bought it. When I got home and started checking it out, it was clear that the universe put it in my path for a reason. The whole issue was dedicated to running in the heat.

julywomensrunningConsidering my recent struggles with this Summer’s scorching heat and tropical-esque humidity, I obviously needed to read this. In reading through an interview with a physiologist about the difficulties of running in the heat and potential heat-related illnesses, this smacked me right over the head:

heatdangerOh, hello. I’m pretty sure that what I was experiencing on that miserable long run was a mild case of heat exhaustion rather than an issue with hydration. I don’t know why this didn’t cross my mind previously, because I know about heat exhaustion. Talk about a real “duh” moment. I guess sometimes you just really need a big reminder.

Arm yourself with information. Here’s First-Aid for heat exhaustion.

Anyway, now that this article has scared me in all the right ways, I’m making sure to be extra careful about running in this heat. Some things that stood out to me so far in this month’s issue:

  • Temperatures above 80 degrees (F) have a negative impact on performance. Other factors, including personal, will determine risk for heat illness.
  • Your sweating rate plays a big factor in how prone you might be to heat illness (I’m a sweaty sweater).
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency and could be fatal if untreated.

Ways to prevent heat-related illnesses and stay cool:

  1. Let go of your expectations for pace and distance. Running in the heat is very tough and you should train based on how your body feels. Focus on effort rather than pace.
  2. Run before sunrise or late in the evening when the temperatures are cooler and the sun isn’t right on you.
  3. Wear as little clothing as possible! Or keep it loose. Wear a visor, sunglasses, sunscreen.
  4. Bring water or electrolyte drinks or set up a “cooling station” on your route with plenty of water, ice, fuel, towel.
  5. Take breaks.
  6. Dump water on yourself throughout the run or wear a bandanna around your neck with ice cubes in it.
  7. Run indoors with the AC up.
  8. Take up a hot yoga class to acclimate to the heat (Schedule it two days before or after your run).
  9. Bring your cell phone, wear your Road ID, run with a friend, and/or tell someone where you’re going.
  10. Be flexible. Check the weather and plan your runs for the week, but don’t force it if it’s too hot. It’s better to skip a run than hurt yourself.

Running in the heat is serious business, so be safe! Prevention is key, so if you start to feel any dizziness, lightheadedness, cramps, or nausea, stop.

On that note, I’m planning to get up before sunrise on a Saturday (tomorrow) to try and get a 10-11 mile run in before the earth catches on fire. I’m a little nervous about next weekend’s Boilermaker 15K, so getting through this run is going to be important in determining my race strategy.

Run happy and run safe!



3 Responses to “Danger: Heat Zone”

  1. genext13 July 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    I live in Phoenix and I do a day run once or twice a week. We are about 10k from the center of the sun so it takes some getting used to. My plan is to run the Badwater race some day so this is the best environment to train in. Have fun with your race!

  2. courage2run July 6, 2013 at 4:13 am #

    Thanks for the refresher in heat exhaustion! Very wise to keep in mind, thank you!

    • Nikki July 6, 2013 at 6:48 am #

      You’re welcome!

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