Seriously, it’s hot out there y’all.
Stepping out the door for a quick mid-day run, I am quickly reminded that we live in Louisiana. Sweltering, suffocating, oppressive, and blistering are just a few words that come to mind. And it’s only June, folks. But if you’re anything like me, resigning to strictly treadmill workouts due to the heat is just not an option. So, if we’re going to spend hours upon hours running in this sauna that we lovingly call home, we’d better take some precautions.
Road Runners Club of America provides us with some tips to train in hot weather that I believe are quite beneficial. The most important thing to remember is to avoid dehydration at all costs. In severe heat, you can lose up to 12 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of running. This makes pre-hydrating extremely important since it’s hardly possible to replace fluids lost if we aren’t adequately hydrated before starting our run. However, while running, drinking fluids every 20-30 minutes is recommended.
With the extreme humidity of southern Louisiana, it is good to note that if the humidity level is too high it prevents sweat from evaporating from your skin. And since this process regulates body temperature, running in such high humidity can result in rapid overheating and literally cooking your internal organs. RRCA recommends avoiding a run when the temperature reaches 98.6 degrees and the humidity is above 70-80%.
When running in the summer, it’s extremely imperative to be prepared. If you’ve never taken a sweat rate test, I’d recommend trying it out. Start by weighing yourself nude (or minimally clothed) before a timed training run and then again afterwards. Every one pound of weight loss equals one pint of water loss. For example, if you lose 2 pounds during an hour run, you’ve lost 2 pints (32 ounces) of water. Therefore, a good hydration strategy would be to consume 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes for subsequent runs at that same temperature.
Another aspect of being prepared is planning your runs intelligently. Plan your route so you can refill water bottles or find drinking fountains. Also, make sure to carry identification and tell someone your route and the amount of time you expect to run. Try to plan a route that avoids direct sunlight and blacktop roads. Lastly, wear light colored breathable clothing (perhaps a nifty Run Louisiana singlet?). Avoid long sleeves, pants, or sweat suits, as purposely running in these to lose water weight is extremely dangerous.
Most importantly, if while running you become dizzy, nauseated, have the chills, or cease to sweat, stop running immediately. Find shade, rehydrate, and if you don’t feel better soon, get help.
Be smart and be prepared.
By Jonathan Kastner