Summer Running: Take Precautions in the Heat

6. Wear light clothing, but not cotton. Many of the new, technical fibers will move moisture away from your skin, producing a cooling effect. Cotton soaks up the sweat, making the garment heavier as it sticks to your skin. This means that you won't receive as much of a cooling effect as that provided by the tech fibers.

7. Pour water over your head. Evaporation not only helps the cooling process, it makes you feel cooler. This offers a psychological boost which can benefit you immensely. Bring along some ice water and squirt it regularly over the top of your head to cool down mid-run.

8. Do your short runs in installments. For example, on a hot day that is scheduled for an easy, 30-minute run, do 10 in the morning, 10 at noon and 10 at night. The long run, however, should be done at one time. Speed workouts should also be done all at once, but take more rests between reps and break up the distance (running twice as many 800s as one-mile repeats).

More: Summer Running: 3 Best Workouts

9. Take a pool break or a shower chill-down. During a run, it really helps to take a two- to four-minute dip in a pool or shower. Some runners in hot areas run loops around their neighborhoods and let the hose run over the head each lap. The pool is especially helpful in soaking out excess body temperature. I have run in 97-degree temperatures at our Florida running retreat, breaking up a five-mile run into three, 1.7-mile runs. Between each, I take a two- to three-minute "soak break" and get back out there. It was only at the end of each segment that I got warm again.

10. Sun screen--a mixed review. Some runners will need to protect themselves. Some products, however, produce a coating on the skin that slows down perspiration and produces an increase in body-temperature buildup. If you are only in the sun for 30 to 50 minutes at a time, you may not need to put on sunscreen for cancer protection. Consult with a dermatologist for your specific needs--or find a product that doesn't block the pores.

More: Running in the Sun: Tips for Protecting Your Skin

11. Drink six to eight ounces of a sports drink like Accelerade or water, at least every two hours or when thirsty, throughout the day during hot weather.

12. Look at the clothing thermometer on my website or in my books. Wear loose-fitting garments that have some texture in the fabric. Texture will limit or prevent the perspiration from causing a clinging and sticking to the skin.

13. When the temperature is above 90 degrees, you have my permission to re-arrange your running shoes--preferably in an air conditioned environment.

More: 7 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Symptoms of Heat Disease:
  • Intense heat build-up in the head
  • General overheating of the body
  • Significant headache
  • Significant nausea
  • General confusion and loss of concentration
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Excessive sweating and then cessation of sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Excessively rapid breathing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling faint
  • Unusual heart beat or rhythm
Risk Factors:
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Taking medications, such as cold medicines, diuretics, medicines for diarrhea, antihistamines, atropine, scopolamine, tranquilizers, and cholesterol and blood pressure medications. Check with your doctor on medication issues--especially when running in hot weather.
  • Dehydration (especially due to alcohol)
  • Severe sunburn
  • Overweight
  • Lack of heat training
  • Exercising more than one is used to
  • Occurrence of heat disease in the past
  • Two or more nights of extreme sleep deprivation
  • Certain medical conditions including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, extreme stress, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, smoking or a general lack of fitness

More: 3 Heat-Related Illnesses You Can Avoid

Take Action!

Use your best judgment, but in most cases anyone who exhibits two or more of the symptoms should get into a cool environment and get medical attention immediately. An extremely effective cool-off method is to soak towels, sheets or clothing in cool or cold water and wrap them around the individual. If ice is available, sprinkle some ice over the wet cloth. Call 911 if symptoms persist.

More: Hot Weather Running Guide

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