Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday Workout Update - Dealing With the Heat

Five years ago, if you had told me that I would be willingly exercising during the hot spring, summer and fall months (gotta love Texas's extended summer), I would have said that you were out of your mind.  But since I do workout year-round, and don't let the weather stop me, I have to assume that I'm the one who's out of my mind.  I guess there could be worse things, but at this point I really wouldn't know, seeing as how my brain has gone missing.

What I wanted to talk about today was how to deal with running when you live in a hot climate...because much as I'd like to wait for a cool morning to exercise, I'd be waiting until mid-October, so I buck up and deal with it the best I can.  Over the last few years, I've managed to figure out what works for me, so I thought I'd share some tips:
  1. Don't run when the sun is out.  Seriously, I can't believe I am saying this, but you'd be amazed at the number of people I see out running in the middle of the day.  Plus, our temperatures usually spike around 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm, so it's still way too hot to run after work.  Run early or run late, but for crying out loud, avoid, as much as you can, running in the direct sun.
  2. This is a fact and not a tip:  it never cools down during the summer months; we've been running at 5:30 or 6:00 am and the temperatures are a consistent 75-80 degrees (yes, this would be our morning low, ::sob::), with humidity usually around 90%.  That's not pleasant, but you get used to it.  However, add in the blazing fireball in the sky a couple hours later, and it becomes brutal.  So do whatever you can to avoid adding the sun to your run - and if that means waking up at 4:00 am to get rolling extra early, do it - running long distance is hard enough; don't make it harder on yourself by having the sun beat down on you, too.
  3. Did you notice that I pretty much said DON'T RUN WHEN THE SUN IS OUT in the first two tips?  There you go.  Waking up well before dawn isn't the most fun thing in the world, but it's not the worst thing, either.  Bonus is that you're finished with your workout before a lot of people have even started on their first cup of coffee!
  4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - but not just with water.  If you sweat a lot, you're going to lose the natural electrolytes in your body, and if you only drink water, you'll just dilute what is remaining, which can result in, at best, muscle cramps, but at worst, a condition called hyponatremia, which can be deadly.  So throw some Gatorade, Nuun or other electrolyte-replacer into the mix...it's not a gimmick, but a necessity, when you exercise in hot climates.  And I shouldn't have to say this, but carry a water bottle with you...don't get caught without adequate hydration.  Also?  Fill it halfway the night before your run and freeze it, then add water the next morning - ahhh, icy-cold and refreshing.
  5. For safety reasons, we run against traffic so we can see oncoming vehicles (and move away from them, if need be).  But if you run on the sidewalk and notice that one side of the street is shaded, by all means, cross over and run in the shade.  I've had several "dur, George" moments when I could have been in some shade, but because I automatically run facing traffic, it doesn't occur to me to cross, even when I'm on a sidewalk.  
  6. Wear technical (aka dri fit) clothing.  Look, you're going to sweat, and you clothes are going to get soaked.  But technical clothing dries much quicker than cotton, and it's supposed to wick the moisture away from your skin...I say supposed to because honestly, I'm usually a wringing wet mess at the end of my long run, and that's with wearing technical clothing.  It also reduces the amount of chafing that can happen - I used to wear cotton t-shirts to run in, and my skin would be a rashy mess after a long run.  That said...
  7. ...Get out of your wet technical clothing as soon as you can.  Just because it's wicking fabric doesn't mean it's OK to keep wearing it.  I ended up with a mean heat rash around my bra band area, because a few mornings after Julia and I did our land workout, we ran errands and even though the outer layers of clothing dried, my sports bra and waistband of my running shorts didn't.  Ouch.
  8. Heat rash.  It's different than chafing.  Chafing has its own special pain (especially when you don't realize you've chafed until you get into the shower and warm water hits it), but heat rash feels like stabby stingers when you start to sweat.  Not fun, and you can't get away from it during a run.  
  9. Be liberal with Body Glide and Aquaphor before your run - apply everywhere.  I'm not kidding.  Just be sure to put in your contacts before you dip your fingers into the tub of Aquaphor...which sounds reasonable until you realize that you're doing all of this before you've really woken up, and nothing is simple at 4:30 am.
  10. A cold washcloth can be a lifesaver.  My running club will set out an ice chest of washcloths along our longer routes; it's remarkable how much putting a cold cloth on the back of your neck can help perk you up.  Additionally, pouring some water on the top of your head, or on the back of your neck helps give you a nice little burst of coolness.
  11. Slow down.  Running in extreme heat is not the time to bust out a speedy run; really, now is the time to just keep your body used to running, period.  The speed, if that's your thing, will come when the weather cools down.
Anything to add?  

22 comments:

  1. Great tips Shelley! We have had a pretty cool summer this year. Good for running/walking, not so good for swimming :-(

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    1. I agree, it's hard to get into the pool when it's chilly!

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  2. Oh my goodness! I thought 60 degrees at 5:30 was bad. You poor, poor Texans.
    I can't believe Nuun HQ is in Seattle, where it really doesn't get that hot.
    And, #7....yes! Get that sweaty bra off as fast as you can. I've started bringing a change of clothes post long run, including a bra. Don't be lazy, take it all off before you go out to breakfast, haha.

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    1. Gross as it is to change in the park restroom, staying in the sweaty underthings is ending up being worse, so I've packed a complete change of clothes for after this Saturday's run.

      I didn't know Nuun was out of Seattle - seriously, that IS odd!

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  3. Terrific tips...I also wear a visor instead of a hat during our lovely Texas summers because I sweat from heat to toe. I've found a visor lets the heat escape and I don't feel so oppressed.

    Oh yeah...remember your sunscreen. Even us with double dips of melanin need sunscreen.

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    1. Yes on the visor vs. the hat! Have you found any particular brand of sunscreen that works well with the sweat/humidity factor?

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  4. Oklahoma weather is pretty close to Texas weather, and I was just wondering the other day how runners in our part of the country do it. Now I know!! Very good tips Shelley!

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    1. I think the only difference is that OK starts getting cooler before TX, but yeah, you get the heat just as bad up there...

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  5. I don't know how you do it in the humidity - that sucks all the energy out of me!

    We haven't had to worry about the heat this summer - this morning when I woke up it was 49 degrees and I had to find my slippers and a sweater!

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    1. Well, now I want to cry hearing about your PERFECT RUNNING TEMPERATURE weather!!!

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  6. These are all good tips! But... should we run when the sun is out? :) One tip I got was to put ice in your sports bra at races, if it's particularly hot and awful out - totally helps!

    And the speed thing - I read somewhere that you should add 30 seconds to your normal pace for every 5 degrees it is over 65. But I know it's still hard for a lot of runners to see that slower pace.

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  7. I feel so lucky to live where I do and only have those kind of temps for a brief period of time. It was 55 for biking to breakfast this morning and tonight will be the upper 40s!

    I was going to mention sunscreen, but then you said not to run when the sun is out... :D

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  8. Oh #9! Contacts and Bodyglide??? OWCH!!!!!!!!
    You are a running rock star for getting out in that heat!

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  9. What??? I only commented inside my mind?? Oops. Anyway, what I was saying is that it is really a wonder that there are any runners at all in Texas. Just amazing. When I lived there, and I decided to start exercising, I remember that my friend and I used to walk after dark late at night. In my memory, I thought it was just because we were young and both worked. Now I know it was because it was the only sane time to walk!

    You gave some good tips here! I never knew there was a difference between heat rash and chafing. Not that I want to experience either of them!!

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    1. I'm sorry to have discovered the difference between heat rash and chafing, believe me! :(

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  10. So what you are telling me is to not run in the sun? I wasn't sure if that's what you are saying! ha ha ha (just joking...I got it loud and clear!)

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  11. point noted. And may I add this is a very helpful post

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  12. late to this but soo chiming in on the cool washcloth.
    IN MYRIAD SITUATIONS :)

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  13. Great tips. We are lucky that it isn't as hot as it is in Texas. But I use some of your tips on warm days since I can't stand the heat that well as you know. And running before work is something I learned to enjoy, it's like you say. I get to work already done my workout where everyone else only got out of bed, had coffee and went to work :)

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  14. Great tips, Shelley, and I can testify that they work well for walkers,too! And for working in the yard. :) I don't wear technical tops because for some reason they make me feel even hotter. And not in a good way. :)

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  15. Great tips, Shelley, although I'm one of the Nuun-drinking Seattlites who only needs to make heat accomodations a few days a year, or when we head to Eastern WA. Obviously Nuun is based in Seattle so they don't have very far to truck their product to REI, right? Hoping your temps cool down on schedule, if not early this year!

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