Running in Summer
Summer is around the corner and the heat and humidity are the most difficult elements for runners to train in. Most people wouldn’t pick summer as their favorite season for running – it’s exhausting, runs are shorter and slower, and it can be dangerous.
These are some heat-related illness you should know about if you plan on running this summer:
HEAT CRAMPS: Severe abdominal or large-muscle cramps cause by dehydration that leads to an electrolyte imbalance.
HEAT FAINTING: Often brought on by a sudden stop that interrupts blood flow from the legs to the brain.
HYPONATREMIA: Headache, disorientation and muscle twitching cause by excessive water intake. This dilutes blood-sodium levels; usually occurs after running for four or more hours.
HEAT EXHAUSTION: Core body temperature of 102 degrees to 104 degrees F, headache, fatigue, profuse sweating, nausea, clammy skin.
HEAT STROKE: Core body temperature of 104 degrees or more, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid pulse, disorientation.
How can we prevent this?
- Run before the sun comes out or late in the evenings, that way you’ll avoid the hottest part of the day. Some runners meet at 5 am to start training, that way their runs will be done by the time the sun starts coming out. If you can’t run in the morning, work out as late in the day as possible. Although the sun is highest in the sky at noon, the earth’s surface heat peaks between 3 pm and 5 pm.
- Wear clothes that are loose-fitting, breathable and light colored. Technical fabrics wick away sweat and dry quickly. This means you won’t feel weighed down by your sweat-soaked T-shirt.
- Stay hydrated. It is important to drink fluids every 20 or 30 min during your runs. Plan your long runs to make sure you have plenty of shade and places to stop for water. If it’s a particularly hot day, have a sports drink with electrolytes, not just water.
- Stop running if you are feeling dizzy, nauseated or lightheaded. Try to find shade, drink fluids and carry your phone in case of emergency.
- Run in the shade when it’s possible. If you’re going to be exposed to the intense summer rays, consider wearing a hat and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply it before you go out and reapply every two hours, even if it’s a sweat-proof sunscreen.
- Don’t try to beat your personal record. You can’t expect to put your training to the test when the temperature is elevated. Your pace may be 10 to 20 seconds slower per km.
- Take breaks. You don’t have to stop running during the warmest months of the year but you should avoid running during heat waves, especially if they are accompanied by high humidity. When heat is compounded by humidity, the air is already saturated with water, and the sweat on your skin has no place to go.
There are also some heat-related ailments like blisters, chafing, and sunburn that can strike anytime but they are more common in hot weather. Here are some tips on how to prevent these problems:
- Black toenails. To prevent black toenails, make you’re wearing the right running shoe size (at least ½ size bigger than your common size). Trim your nails regularly, and keep your foot dry for as long as possible during your runs. Make sure you are wearing good wicking socks, not cotton ones.
- Invest in a good pair of socks that wick the moisture away from your skin. Also consider lathering your feet with a blister-relief product.
- A lubricant applied before your run is the best answer. You can apply the lubricant to the shirt, nipples, and armpits or to your thighs.
- Muscle cramps. To prevent muscle cramps reduce exercise intensity and duration and improve you condition and range of motion.
Supplies you should have at home, in the car or at the gym: Vaseline, sunscreen and aloe vera.