Tips for Managing Hot Weather While Logging Your Miles – Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials
Scorching weather awaits on the summer calendar. If you are a runner, do lots of training miles.
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Workouts when the temperature is rising can put additional – and even dangerous – stress on your body. Heat-related illnesses that can develop during exercise in the outside sizzle include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The hot, humid weather warrants caution and recalibration for runners looking to maintain their fitness routine, explains exercise physiologist Katie Lawton, MEd. Here are some tips for staying safe while sticking to your training schedule.
The best times to run when it’s hot
The coolest part of the day usually occurs around sunrise, so getting up before dawn for a run works as an ideal solution for beating the heat. (Not one morning? Read what a psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist recommends for changing your circadian rhythm.)
Evening races also provide a bit of a respite from the heat, although temperatures don’t drop as low as in the morning hours.
Both time slots provide more ideal racing conditions than at noon, when daily temperatures peak and the sun punishes those who move below. “Some people can do it,” Lawton says, “but you won’t find me running at 1pm”
What to wear to run in the heat
There is an outfit for every occasion, including a 5 miler in the summer sun. Running shirts and shorts for a hot day should be:
- Loose or ventilated fit to let air in and cool your skin.
- Made of a moisture wicking fabric (usually polyester based) to aid the evaporation process. Avoid cotton clothes, which quickly turn into heavy, wet clothes that hold heat against your body.
- Light in color, because dark shades absorb the heat of the sun.
Runners may also want to invest in a lightweight, moisture-wicking hat, visor, or headband to absorb sweat and cool their head. Sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays are also recommended.
Find shaded running routes when it’s hot
Pavement absorbs heat, making streets and sidewalks resemble a frying pan over a stove flame. (This helps explain the countless YouTube videos of people trying to cook an egg on sunny aisles.)
The lesson here is to move your groceries away from those unsuitable cooking surfaces to park trails, where miles of natural trail await you under a cool, leafy awning.
Sshould you run this fast in the heat?
Running on a hot, searing day provides a definite physiological response. Your heart rate increases as your body struggles with the effects of overheating. This survival mode instinct diverts energy from the muscles to focus on cooling.
Each sweaty step will require more effort as the fatigue increases – and this will be reflected in your pace. For every 5 degree increase above 60 degrees, the typical runner can expect to slow down 20 to 30 seconds per mile.
The impact can be even greater as the seasons change and cold-acclimatized runners suddenly face warmer temperatures. You should allow a period of adjustment of one to two weeks to feel comfortable.
On hotter days, Lawton suggests you should ignore your GPS pace-tracking watch and run more by exertion: “It’s a state of mind adjustment,” she says. “Go by what you feel.”
How much to drink before and after races in hot weather
Runners don’t just sweat when the weather warms up. They spring from it. Losing fluid mass can lead to dehydration if you don’t take the right steps before and after your workout.
Be sure to drink 16 to 20 ounces of water or sports drink a few hours before any run or training run, says Lawton. To top it off, drink another 8 to 12 ounces within 15 minutes of activity.
Plan to drink fluids during any run over an hour. Lawton said a good rule of thumb is to try to get 3 to 5 ounces of fluid every 30 minutes of exertion. Take drinks longer distances or organize routes with access to water fountains.
Then rehydrate yourself with at least 16 ounces of fluid for every pound that melted in sweat during training. Sports drinks can help restore electrolytes. Chocolate milk, fruit juices, or fruit smoothies are also great options. The water is still good too.
Monitor the color of your urine to determine if you are well hydrated. If it’s not pale or clear yellow, drink more fluids.
Warning signs to look out for when running in the heat
It’s important to listen to your body if you’re struggling during a run in the sun, says Lawton. Most importantly, don’t ignore them. Stop your workout, get out of the heat, and focus on cooling your body if you experience symptoms such as:
- Muscle cramps or spasms.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- A headache.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Cold and clammy or hot and dry skin.
Be flexible with summer racing plans
Don’t force a run when the weather or your body dictates a different approach, Lawton says. Consider cutting a long run in half or replacing a planned run with a cross-training activity, such as swimming or lifting weights.
If possible, use the weather forecast to plan your weekly run and schedule rest days or other activities on the hottest days.
“With the right planning and the right approach, runners can rack up miles all summer long,” Lawton says. “Be careful, however, and don’t push him.”