Beat the Heat!

Beat the Heat!

If you have been paying attention to the news or spent anytime outside today, you probably have figured out we have a "High Heat Alert" for the next 10 days. The experts expect temperatures in the mid to high 90s and very high humidity for at least a week to ten days. Some of you got the memo, as I had six DCRRC runner flybys on the Custis/WO&D trails this morning between 6 and 7 AM when it was mercifully a little cooler. For everyone else, I offer a few heat tips to consider when planning your runs, since we creatures of habit will probably still be running when some of us make it to the Hell we deserve. ;-)

Coach Ed wisely gives these rules of thumb: when the "Misery Index" (Temperature in Fahrenheit + Dew Point) is less than 130 you should be OK, from 130 to 140 be cautious,

140 to 150 very cautious, and 150 to 160 be Extremely Cautious, and 160 + is "what are you thinking?" Putting those into the real world, according to, the Misery Index at 6 AM tomorrow morning should be 135 (Temp 72 + Dew Point 63), at 10 AM it increases to 146 (81 +65), at 1 PM the Misery Index soars to 155 (89 + 66), while at 4 PM – when only Mad Dogs and Englishmen would be running - it increases to 157 (91 + 66) – and Tuesday will probably be the nicest day to run this week!

They say a word to the wise is sufficient – so be CAREFUL with the heat. We had a cool spring so none of us are acclimated to the heat – that acclimation can take two weeks or longer. Try to run by feel rather than time, as increased heat will definitely slow your times, sometimes by as much as 10 to 20 percent – and if your watch tracks it, check your heart rate and run at your average HR for your pace even if it requires you to slow down – and Hydrate – you can lose 4 to 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes you run! The Big Guy loses as much as 5 pounds of water weight on a summer long run.

Here are a few more professional tips from the "Marathon Handbook":

8 Tips For Running In The Heat

If you are going to be running in 90-degree weather or running in 100-degree weather, it is important to take some precautions to help keep your body safe when running in the heat.

Here are some tips for hot weather running:

#1: Be Patient

Most studies have found that it takes about two weeks for your body to acclimate to running in the heat.

During this acclimatization period, be patient with yourself and adjust your workouts as needed.

#2: Look at the Hourly Forecast

It is important to pay attention to the combination of air temperature and humidity (the Heat Index) when planning the best time of day to run on hot days.

Although running in the early morning before the sun rises often will offer cooler temperatures, the humidity is often highest in the morning.

Running in the middle of the day should usually be avoided because the air temperature will be at its highest; plus, the sun will be most direct. However, the humidity is usually lowest at the peak hours of the day.

Therefore, if you are able to run on a very shady trail, you may actually find that the heat index and "real feel" when you are running in the shade is better than when running on a humid summer morning on the open road.

Oftentimes, the evening is the best time to run in the summer because the sun has set, so the air temperature begins to drop, and the humidity tends to be lower.

#3: Hydrate

Not enough emphasis can be placed on the importance of hydrating properly when running in the heat. Dehydration significantly increases the risk of heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Depending on your sweat rate and the environmental conditions, aim to drink at least 4-8 fluid ounces of water and/or electrolyte-infused sports drink every 15-20 minutes during your run.

#4: Run By Effort

Although there is certainly training value in paying attention to your pace, when running in the heat, it is often a wiser and safer decision to run by effort.

This means that you should guide your pace and workout specifications based on how intense or difficult the running feels.

The reason that it is important to shift to running by effort rather than pace when running in 90 or 100-degree weather is that when you're paying attention to pace rather than effort, you're more likely to ignore heat illness cues from your body.

Plus, in terms of your training, you are less likely to hit specific paces in the heat anyway.

#5: Find the Shade

Dark-colored asphalt radiates heat, and running in direct sunlight is like running in an oven.

Look for trails or bike paths that are covered by the natural canopy of the trees.

The pavement will remain cooler on these sorts of bike paths, and if you choose natural trails with soil or wood chips, there will be less heat radiating from the surface as these materials will not absorb as much heat energy as black asphalt.

#6: Choose the Right Clothes

Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics for your hot-weather runs and as little clothing as you're comfortable wearing (or is appropriate!).

Also, choose light color fabrics as dark colors absorb heat from the sun.

You should also try to wear a visor, as this type of hat will help shield your face from direct sunlight while still permitting heat to escape from the top of your head.

#7: Cool Down With Water

Cool water can lower your body temperature, so you can soak a bandana in ice water and tie it around your neck before you head out for your run.

Or, bring an extra bottle of water to pour over your head or fill up at a water fountain to douse yourself halfway through your run.

#8: Run Indoors

When it seems like it is too hot to run outside, you should take your workout indoors and either hop on the treadmill or choose a form of cross-training such as aqua jogging and replicate your planned workout.

It is always better to be safe than put your body at risk of heat illness, or struggle through a miserably hot workout.

To keep yourself well-hydrated in the heat and humidity, it is imperative to drink sufficient water and electrolyte-filled sports drinks.

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The DC Road Runners Club is a member of the Road Runners Club of America and is also affiliated with USA Track & Field. We provide a year-round schedule of running events that offer everyone a chance to participate regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability.