Training in Hot Weather

hotweatherPlanning on a run in hot weather and know the temperature and humidity will be pretty high? It’s important to be mindful of the fact that running in hot weather exposes us to the risks of dehydration, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. However, with a few precautions, we can make sure that we remain safe and healthy as we run through days of hot weather. Here are some things to keep in mind as you go.

  1. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to acclimatize and become used to the heat. To help acclimatize spend about an hour outside each day even if you are not running. The summer will keep getting hotter so try to move your trainings to the early mornings and later evenings when it is less hot.
  2. Know the symptoms of heat illness.
    Warning signs of heat illness vary but may include the following:

    • An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees F, orally)
    • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
    • Rapid, strong pulse
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness
  3. Train in the least hot part of the day
    Try to train early in the morning or after sundown. In daylight hours, run in shaded areas if possible. Look at the online weather reports to find the cooler parts of the day for your training. 
  4. Slow down and shorten your runs
    Running at your usual speed in higher temperatures is more taxing on your body. When training your body we are more interested in effort and total impact. We are less interested in distance. You probably would not be upset if you ran a little slower up a mountain. Running in heat is just like running up a mountain so you should make adjustments to your training 
  5. Wear light colored loose fitting clothing.
    Make sure to protect yourself from sunburns and also from overheating by choosing the right clothes. Wear moisture wicking clothes that allow the breeze to get to your skin. Sunburns will dehydrate so avoid sunburns and drink extra if you do get one.  
  6. Take in plenty of fluids before, during and after your run
    Drink when you are thirsty. Before the run carry around a glass of water so you can sip it whenever you are thirsty this will help you to start in a better condition. When running drink whenever you are thirsty. The body needs time to process the fluids so you want to give your body fluids sooner than later. Once you finish, be nice to your body after a hard workout and give it fluids to help repair and rebuild itself. 
  7. Don’t take risks
    If you experience any symptoms of heat illness, stop running, drink fluids, get out of the heat and into air conditioning or at least into the shade. Heat illness is very serious and it can kill. Be being smart and listening to your body you can avoid serious heat issues and still get in some good training during hot weather.

Hydration & Hot Weather
This is really important. Too little fluids can lead to dehydration and that is bad. Too much water can lead to hyponatremia (too little sodium in your plasma) which is deadly. You don’t need to be perfect but we definitely want to avoid the extremes. Let’s spend some extra time on this important topic. How do you know if you are taking in enough fluids? Generally, let your thirst be your guide. Recent research and experience has taught that thirst is in fact a very good indicator of when and how much to drink. Very fast runners and older runners might want to hydrate a little sooner.

It can be difficult to drink enough during a particularly hot and humid day. According to nutritionist Nancy Clark, one should strive to keep weight loss in any one exercise session to no more than 2% of your body weight. (That means, for example, a 150 pound person should not lose more than 3 pounds on a run.) Spread out your fluid consumption by taking smaller amounts but more often so you’re not running with water sloshing around in your stomach – a sometimes uncomfortable occurrence.

To find out more precisely how much you need to drink to replace fluids lost through perspiration, you can measure the amount you sweat. Fortunately, to do this, you don’t need to collect your sweat in a container as you run. Simply weigh yourself when you are adequately hydrated before you go out for a one hour run and then again when you return. Make sure you remove your wet running clothes before weighing yourself after the run. Each pound of weight loss represents one pint (16 fluid ounces) of perspiration. If you lost 1.5 pounds, you know that under the conditions you ran, you sweat at the rate of one and half pints per hour (or 24 fluid ounces) and you will want to replace your fluids at the same rate during your run. Use this information as a guideline and not a rule because your sweat rate will increase in hotter, more humid conditions and you will need more fluids.

After your run, begin re-hydrating immediately. You’ll know that you’ve adequately re-hydrated if your urine is pale yellow. Dark yellow urine means you probably need to drink more; clear urine means you’ve had more than enough (which can wash away necessary electrolytes).

When you sweat, you are also losing necessary electrolytes – primarily sodium and potassium – along with water. Therefore, it is advantageous to replace them as well. Powerade, Gatoradem, Nuun, Propel and other sports drinks include sodium and potassium and are therefore superior to plain water for hydrating during and after exercise. Find the one that works best for you. How do you know which one that is? It’s the one that tastes best to you (thereby encouraging you to drink) and that does not upset your stomach. So experiment with various products on your training runs until you find the one that works best for you. Also, know which product is being offered on the course at your event and see if you tolerate that one. If so, stick with it. Now is the time to start figuring out not only how fluid will be replaced,but also how to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes as well.