All of the Midwest is probably rolling their eyes at our “cool” 90 degree heat as of late (A stiff 93* as I write this). Southern California is normally spoiled by ideal weather throughout the year. This recent heat wave, even though it is not as hot as it may be other places, can still be dangerous to local athletes. If you are not used to running in any kind of heat (and even if you are), it is important to be prepared in order to avoid injury or sickness.
In excessive heat it seems most feasible to beat the heat by avoiding it. But that may not work as far as your physical fitness and training regime go. It’s hot… you still need to run… so what do you do to conquer the heat before it conquers you?
There are some more obvious options like running later in the day, early in the morning, or in the (hopefully) air conditioned sticky oasis of your local gym. As any athlete knows though, the “ideal” is not always possible. Here are some key elements I’ve gathered to help with running in the heat:
1. Stay hydrated
2. Safely build up your tolerance to heat
2a. Train at consistent times, when possible
2b. Slowly introduce your body to the heat (ie. don’t go on a 20 mile sprint in the heat)
3. Protect yourself (and your skin): cover your skin with clothing AND sunblock
3a. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a loose fitting shirt, and a hat are perfect
elements to the ideal beat-the-heat running outfit
4. Pace yourself
5. Listen to your body
5a. Now is not the time to just “push through”
5b. Be in tune with your body to catch signs of heat exhaustion & dehydration
A heat wave doesn’t mean you can’t run… it just means you have to be smarter about your approach. Be prepared, stay cool, and conquer that heat!
Refer to these articles for more information!