Heed the Heat

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Today was the summer solstice, and mother nature celebrated with a sudden heat surge.  We saw (and felt) temps in the 90s (which felt far worse with humidity), and tomorrow is predicted to be similar.  What this indicates for the rest of the summer, I don’t know, but this head-first dive into summer heat reminds us that we must be careful when spending time outdoors—ESPECIALLY when working out!

Know your (UV) A, B, and Cs

Whether you’re sitting outside to enjoy a meal or you’re out training for a marathon, it’s important to be aware of the sun’s effects on our bodies and how we can prevent it from harming us.  So, runners, before you hit the road this week, be sure to get back into the habit of heeding the heat, with these steps: 

Hydrate This may seem obvious, but too often, many of us forget to plan ahead and find ourselves searching for water only once we’ve already reached serious dehydration.  Make sure you drink before, during (long runs), and after your run to stay hydrated, and be wary of the signs and symptoms (LINK) of dehydration.  Learn more about dehydration symptoms, prevention, and treatment here. 

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Wear light clothing. Synthetic fabrics and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing are your best bet.  You should also seek synthetic blends for your socks, because your feet sweat, too. 

Don’t expect immediate acclimation.  It takes approximately two weeks of running in heat and humidity before your body adapts to the new, hot weather conditions.   (http://www.marathonguide.com/training/coachmindy/heat.cfm)

Wear sunscreen.  If you’re walking, running, or training under the sun, it’s imperative that you protect your skin as though you were at the beach.  Just because you’re in motion doesn’t mean the sun can’t find you.  Be sure to slather on sunscreen before heading outside, and look for a sweat-proof brand that will keep you covered even when you’re dripping liquid awesome.


Wear sunglasses.  Just like your skin, your eyes also need protection from UV rays.  I used to think that wearing sunglasses while on a run was ridiculous—they’ll just slip off or get in my way, right?  Then, I tried out the OAKLEY (link) sunglasses I got at FITBLOGNYC and never looked back.  Oakley’s athletic sunglasses are (a) so comfortable, you forget your wearing them, (b) don’t slip off at alllllll, even when you’re sweating, and (c) are totally fashionable!  Now, I wear them on my runs AND on the streets.

Run in the morning or evening; avoid running during peak sun hours when it’s hottest out.  Try to do your workout before 10am or after 6pm.  If you have allergies, the evening may be your best bet, because pollen counts are high in the morning.

Even with proper precautions, we’re all susceptible to the sun.  Be aware of the signs of heat-related illness: heat cramps (muscle cramps, muscle spasms, heavy sweating), heat exhaustion (profuse sweating, drop in BP, elevated body temp, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, decreased coordination, fainting), and heat stroke (High body temp, lack of sweating, dry, red skin, altered consciousness).  Marathon Guide explains these conditions and treatment.  

With the dangers in mind, Jenn at Run With Rabbits reminds us that, when necessary, it's okay to take it easy or move your workout indoors.  We can take all the appropriate precautions, but sometimes extreme heat might be too dangerous.  Be aware of your environment and body's signs. 

In the cold of winter, I had been looking forward to the warmer weather, but a short run early this morning reminded me how tough the sun can be on endurance.  The truth is, some of these tips may seem somewhat obvious; however, we do not always follow this simple advice.  I admit, sometimes I'm too hurried or forgetful to put on sunscreen before my workout, and I don't actually own a hand-held water bottle or water belt to hydrate mid-run.  This summer, I dare myself to take the sun seriously, and to make smarter decisions about our running habits.

And I dare you: dress appropriately, protect your eyes and skin, hydrate, and plan your workouts according to the sun.  

Do you run outside in extreme heat?  
How does your routine change? 

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