Your Guide to Racing in the Heat

To Sunscreen or Not to Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a bit of a mixed bag. Some people swear by sunscreen and wear it every day, everywhere. But some new studies suggest that sunscreens block the body's ability to absorb ultraviolet (UVA) rays, which produce vitamin D in our bodies. And vitamin D has been shown to prevent many cancers.

Interestingly, an overwhelming amount of skin cancers have been diagnosed in areas of the U.S. with the longest winters and the least amount of sunshine. This ?nding points to the idea that getting some moderate sun over a longer period of time is statistically safer than sudden, seasonal sun exposure.

To the connoisseur of common sense, all this information proposes a need for moderation in the sun, but not total lack of exposure. Do you have fair skin? Do you live in New England? Reduce the chances of an early-season sunburn by using sunscreen if you expect to be in the sun for an extended amount of time. Wear a visor to keep direct sunlight off your face and eyes. Be smart and think before you head outside.

Wear the Right Fabrics

In the heat of summer, wearing the wrong type of clothing can just add to your misery. Wear the least amount of clothing you're comfortable with, and try to keep it somewhat loose-?tting. Avoid cotton and any other absorbent materials, as they will just hold in moisture, fail to keep you cool, and cause chaf?ng.

Stick with light, moisture-wicking tech fabrics from head to toe, which pull moisture away from your body and dry quickly. Don't forget to look for your summer socks in these materials as well, to prevent blisters.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (Not Too Much)

Hydration is of utmost importance during hot runs, and it's especially tricky for those in dry climates. When the temperature climbs and the air is dry, sweat evaporates so easily that you can easily dehydrate before you start feeling thirsty. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, cramps, fatigue, and heat stroke.

The necessary amount of ?uid replacement is different for everyone, but as a starting point you should make sure you are well hydrated before your run. A rule of thumb is to drink about 15 to 20 oz. of water two hours before your run, and then 8 to 10 oz. more about 15 minutes before you head out.

Until you know how much water you'll need during your race, you'll want to consume about 8 to 10 oz. for every 10 to 15 minutes of exercise, and adjust as needed.

The ?ip-side to hydration is hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is the result of consuming too much water. Your body sweat is composed of not only water, but also sodium. Adequate blood-sodium balance is necessary in the body. If you're sweating over a long period of time and only drinking water, you may throw off that balance.

Circumvent this problem by switching up water for sports drinks that contain sodium and potassium. If you aren't a fan of the typical sports drinks provided at races, you can try more natural alternatives like coconut water or Nuun.

When in doubt, always utilize your best tool for staying safe on hot runs: common sense. Avoid conditions that are dangerous and always be prepared. Over-prepared, even. Enjoy your races this summer, instead of making them harder on yourself.

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About the Author

Trisha Reeves

Trisha Reeves is an ultra-marathoner with more than 10 years of running experience.
Trisha Reeves is an ultra-marathoner with more than 10 years of running experience.

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