Is everyone ready to feel like we are living on the surface of the sun over the next few days? The forecast is calling for some sweltering, record-breaking days of 90-plus-degree temps. This heatwave falls just in time for my relay race in Southern Oregon. Since running in this heat is my only option, I thought I would put together an informative article for how to survive while running in hellish temperatures.
Hydrate, a lot – I’m not talking about guzzling water right before your run. I mean: Start hydrating now. By hydrating in the days before a heatwave, you will ensure your body has the hydration it needs. Not only that, if you are properly filled with fluids in the days prior, you won’t experience the excessive urination that comes with trying to catch up on water later. It’s also important to note that you should be drinking sports drinks (like Gatorade) or electrolyte drinks (like Nuun) to guarantee you are keeping your sodium levels in the green.
Replace Depleted Sodium Stores – Have you ever finished a run and found your face was covered in dusty salt? That’s sodium expelled in your sweat. Our bodies need sodium to retain water in our cells. Without the proper amounts, we become dehydrated, which can lead to a host of other problems: diarrhea, vomiting, headache, confusion. You don’t want to end up sick in bed if you can avoid it.
Dress Appropriately – Wear light-colored clothing and dress as lightly as possible in highly breathable fabric. Light colors reflect the sun, and if you can feel some breeze (if there is any) on your skin, you will have an easier time staying cooler. Do not overdress during hot weather running; you can subject yourself to heat stroke.
Seek the Shade – It’s not always possible to find shade during a run, but if you can take advantage of it, you should. The sun beating down on your head can sap your energy faster than anything. Being able to run in the shade during a portion of your run can help you stay out longer.
Put a Hat on it – DO NOT forget to wear a hat. Keep that sun off your scalp and beautiful face. Hats can help keep your head cooler and protect you from harmful UV rays. It’s best to run in a hat designed specifically for runners—one that consists of breathable moisture wicking fabric. And, if it’s really hot and miserable out there, try getting your hat wet. It will provide some sweet cooling relief—until it dries, that is.
Protect your eyes – Your eyes can get sunburns too, and it’s very painful. Not to mention, no one wants squint-eye and forehead wrinkles. Make sure you don a pair of good shades to shield your eyes.
Carry Water or Sports Drink – If you are running in the heat, please take something to drink with you. You need to stay hydrated. If you are running in very warm weather, it’s a good idea to carry a sports drink that contains sodium to replenish your sodium levels. At the very least, you should have water.
Protect Your Skin – Always apply sunscreen before heading outside. If you are a heavy sweater, and most of us are when running while it’s 90-plus degrees, make sure to apply a sport-type sunscreen. These are more ‘sweat-proof’ than a normal sunscreen and will protect your skin during your run.
Time Your Run, if You Can – If you have the luxury, plan your run for the early morning before it heats up, or the evening when it starts to cool down. Not only will the temperatures be lower, but the sun will be lower in the sky and less painful to run in.
Drench Yourself – It was really hot during my first leg of Hood to Coast 2016, so I ended up dumping most of my water over my head. It helped to cool me down. I have also recently heard that some runners will put ice in their bras to keep cool—be careful of chafing. Wet clothing rubbing against your skin can be a recipe for rash and blister.
So good luck staying cool during your workouts this week. Whether you are running in the heat, or just walking to your car after work – stay hydrated and protect that precious skin.