Sunday, July 7, 2013

UV Index, Heat Index, Humidity - terms that describe hell for a runner!

Below is a pretty accurate depiction of ME running this past weekend. Okay, so it's an older man - but that is exactly what I did, and exactly how I felt. So I thought I'd know, to really "take you there"
There was a time in my life where I lived in a "cool climate". I now kick myself for not just relishing in that cool climate as a runner.

For the past 5 years of my life, we have lived in warm climates. I will admit that in terms of lifestyle -- I love living in a warm climate! I love that you can go outdoors 365 days of the year. Snow/Ice never affect my day.

But as a runner, it can be rough. June-September are the hardest. Right now in Tucson and San Antonio (where we currently reside)....there is very little respite from the heat, if any at all. The mornings can be 90 degrees at 5 am, and it only gets hotter.

In San Antonio, the weather app on my Iphone tells me it's 74 degrees. I kick my heels in a fit of joy!

Then I step foot outdoors. And I wilt. Actually, I am engulfed with the dense, heaviness of 80% humidity and a narrow dew point.........and then I wilt to the ground.

You start running, and the wind briefly makes you think you're okay! Then you get to an unshaded area, the sun penetrates your soul, and it dawns on you that "maybe I should have rode my bike today....." or ran on the tredmill at the indoor, air-conditioned gym.

Hm, what a concept.

As you run along the trail, you realize there are not many runners out there. You realize "Holy shit it's hot and miserable!"

It's almost hard to breathe, as the air engulfs you and feels heavy...

And this is where I discuss a few options/pointers on exercising in hell:

  1. Plan your route near water fountains. One things I've found is city parks/routes tend to have water fountains along the course. Otherwise, purchse a water belt.
  2. Hydrating is obvious. But also use the water fountain to cool yourself down! Evaporative cooling is the best method -- splash water on your face and neck, face the wind, and you will temporarily cool off!
  3. Dry fit clothing is the way to go. Cotton may be "The fabric of our lives" -- but not if you want to survive the heat. ;)
  4. Shield your eyes from the sun, so you're not squinting.
  5. Keep you noggin (or head) open to release heat! Visors are the way to go.
  6. Don't push too hard -- your heart has to work harder in the heat to cool you down.
  7. With that being said, training in the heat has a similar effect to training in altitude. Because your body has to work harder to maintain life (I'm exaggerating a little here) -- when you do run in a cooler temperature, you will have more endurance and you will tire less easily. It's because your VO2 Max is increased!
  8. Control your breathing. Synchronize your breathing with your stride. Breath in for 3 steps, breath out for 2. Find a rhythm that works with your stride!
  9. And obviously -- If you start feeling dizzy, weak, blurred vision, chest pain --'s not worth it, my friend.
Post hydration is crucial, too. I got myself in trouble this week with that. (Ended up with a horrific headache and nausea). Push fluids and Eat foods high in H2O to supplement (watermelon, grapefruit, grapes, soup, cucumbers)!

Exercising in the heat is not for all people. For example, my husband can handle it much better than me. I tend to sweat a lot, and therefore require more fluid replacement than he does. Every body is different - so listen to it! Gym memberships and biking is always a cooler option! ;)

1 comment:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Running in the heat and humidity is brutal... We had some wicked workouts last year as Minneapolis had a particularly hot/humid summer. Our coaches would get us popsicles on the nights when it was especially steamy, and they encouraged people to drink a fluid that replaces electrolytes, like gatorade. So I pretty much always did 2 bottles of water, 2 of gatorade, and that helped me. It's been really humid here so far, most days it seems to be in the 80% humidity range, but the temps have only been in the 80-90s so it hasn't been terrible! But I know July and August are going to be more hot. I won't be running as it looks like my return to running will happen in September (maybe) so I'll miss the worst months. But I get so gross and sweaty when walking to work!