Hot enough for you? With ninety degree temperatures and heat advisories becoming a standard fixture across the country, what's a runner to do?
Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are dangerous conditions and can occur quickly. Running teaches us to adapt and prepare for challenges. Here's how to keep logging the miles and finishing races in the heat this summer:
Mild dehydration during exercise is a normal state. Your best approach to hydration is to drink enough water throughout the day, even on rest days.
The simplest gauge is to drink enough water so that your urine remains pale yellow. While running for more than 30 minutes, make sure you bring water with you.
If you are running for 60 minutes or longer, take water or a sport drink to replace the fluids lost through exercise. The reason for this is our bodies lose salt through sweat. Replacing fluid loss with just water can lead to overhydrating because water does not replace the salts. Sport drinks contain electrolytes that can easily meet this need.
Plan the Route
If you are running solo, let someone know where you will be running and when you will be back. Carry a phone and identification in case of an emergency, just to be on the safe side.
Change your routine
If you aren't already an early morning runner, summers in the hot part of the country may turn you into one. Morning temperatures are relatively cool compared to the afternoon and evening. (The sun is just starting to rise between 5:30 and 5:40 a.m., making other precautions such as sunscreen and water less of a factor.)
When the temperature rises, acclimate your body to the new normal outdoor temperature. Take a few three to four-mile runs during the first weeks of summer, and then you will be ready to work on speed and distance.
Remember that icy winter that forced runners onto their treadmills? Your treadmill or one at the gym is a perfect substitute for a regular run. Well, okay. It's not perfect. But if you are not prepared to run in 95-degree temperatures, it is a safer alternative to dehydration or heat exhaustion.
Keep Your Face Covered
Swap your hat for a visor or headband. Wearing a hat traps heat inside our bodies, which is a great strategy in the winter.
In the summer, protect your face with a lightweight visor or sunscreen. For sweat-control, try a moisture absorbing headband. If you do stick with a hat, make sure it is lightweight and white or another light color to reflect sunlight, rather than absorb.
Remember to plan ahead and listen to your body this summer to stay safe while running.
St. Louis Running Examiner Lori Collier enjoys sharing her personal running goals and healthy recipe.