Vomiting is something you want to avoid. You can sit on the couch and safely not let it come to that. That’s not very exciting though, so us runners choose to make things uncomfortable and live a little.
But going too far is not living, that’s treading into excess territory. The polar opposite of being alone on the couch with the Nutella jar. Actually both excessive exercise in the heat, and excessive Nutella consumption will lead to vomiting.
There’s been a few really good blog posts on how to run in the heat this year. Yes I’m late to the party… but so is Summer to 2014. Oh zing, Summer!
So who am I to give any heat tips?
Growing up in Perth, Australia where it wasn’t considered “hot enough” by mother’s standards to turn on the AC until it hit 100 degrees (38 C), is where I honed something of a craft in how to adapt to the heat. It was a choice of learn how to deal with the heat, or play video games indoors (I’ve had a few stints where I chose the latter).
Still, this will probably be the last “How to run in the heat” tips blog post that’ll be blogged this year.
Always run in the mornings.
If there are no other tips that I give, this is the one tip that is going to save your ass the most! These tips are in no particular order except for this one.
Beautiful like an 80’s montage - the #runrise on a cool summer morning run.
A raging debate has been going on over generations in Western Australia - where it’s hotter than the east coast (and better beaches IMO) - to adopt daylight saving or not. Every few decades there’s a trial, and the naysayers always get their way.
This is disappointing to me, as I’m more of an optimist and am for more things than against. But as my workout vs work life balance gets more demanding, I’ve come to realize why the fitness lovers back in Perth are so much more against DLS than most. It’s because there’s at least a 20 to 30 degree F (10-15 C) difference in working out at 6am vs 6pm.
That’s a lot of wasted energy being spent on keeping your vital organs alive in the evening! I’d rather spend that energy on running faster & longer, and recovering faster.
It’s easier to give it your all in speed work when it’s 20 degrees cooler in the morning.
Limit your food intake in the 2-4 hours leading up to your run.
That’s if you must do your run in the evening (see #1). Otherwise this is pretty much guaranteed for the early risers among us.
Food takes longer to digest in hotter climates. That’s why people feel the need to take siestas where it’s hot. True story.
Too much food in your belly bloats you out, because it’s taking longer to digest.
NOTE: people have a tendency to latch onto extremes, so I want to clarify not to do the opposite! The message I try to convey again and again in my blog is one of balance. So don’t interpret this as 180 degrees the other way and eat nothing at all! That’s extreme in the other sense, as it leads to low blood pressure (i.e. dizziness then brain damage). So no, please eat.
Wet your hair before going on a run.
This is awkward at first because your body temperature hasn’t heated up yet. But it makes a difference from the start if you keep your head cool.
The most vital organ is your head, you need to cool it down whenever you get a chance!
Freeze your water bottles overnight.
This is more useful on a long run, or on for a long interval session. That way when you take it out to go running it defrosts over 30 to 60 minutes enough to be drinkable.
But by that time it’s still ridiculously cold enough that it aids in cooling down your body temperature, as well as keeping you hydrated.
I’ve tried pretty much every major water carrying utility out there on the market, and I find that the tiny water belts work the best personally.
Small, compact bottles, evenly distributing their weight around the waist (instead of one giant area) wins the day for me!
Keep your shirt ON!
My upper body’s like a beer campaign - you need to enter a code to reveal a free 6 pack. Although I don’t know the code, and I probably never will.
But I’m not just saying to keep your shirt on because most guys with muscles put my upper body to shame.
The main reason is that when you’re so sweaty that your shirt is soaked, your shirt is doing a great job of keeping you cool! That’s what you want most here, you want to have a cool core body temperature.
Most summer running shirts are made of fabric that doesn’t trap in the heat, so there really is no point in taking it off. Your core body temperature is going to be cooler if you keep your shirt on.
The only times I take my shirt off is on the rare occasion I get nipple chafing… that’s a whole different blog post.
When it’s so hot that your shirt gets soaked a few miles into a run, keep it on!
Drink small & frequent quantities of water.
Instead of large gulps over a massive break in between drinks.
It’s like how the Oatmeal comic goes when racing a marathon. Same goes for any running on a hot day, you don’t want to waterboard yourself!
After the run though? Waterboard away!
Take short & frequent breaks.
Similar to #6. On a long run it’s tempting to take a 2 to 5 minute breather, say for example, every 6 to 8 miles.
Instead I’ve found it works better to limit these breaks to about 15 to 30 seconds, but every 2 to 3 miles on really hot days.
I usually combine breaks with a little splash of water in my mouth.
I haven’t experimented enough with gels yet. I’m still finding out what works there, maybe I’ll add that in next year.
That’s all I’ve got mainly. I’m sure there are other things that have saved my ass, but these are the things that I pretty much do on every single hot run.
Some of these are obvious, some of them not. But all aren’t really widely adopted for some reason, so I think they’re useful to blog on.
This isn’t a foolproof way to avoid excessive heat exhaustion. These are just the most important things that I’ve picked up either from other people, or learnt along the way, or experimented with over many years of failures and triumphs.
Until next year.