Beat the Heat!

As I write this post, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the mercury is climbing. It’s humid, hot, and I’m running tonight. In a futile effort to stay cool, I’ve collected some of the best hot weather running wisdom.

1. Modify your runs. First, and most importantly, modify your runs and make adjustments to accommodate the heat. Don’t expect blazing fast times on boiling hot days. Save speed work for cooler days, and cut back on your pace when running in the heat. Consider modifying your training plan to run fewer miles at slower paces for the duration of a heat wave. Be patient and allow yourself to adapt slowly to the heat.

2. Mix it up. Take your runs inside. In the worst heat, consider running on a treadmill or indoor track. Runners World magazines’ online resources include some great suggestions for excellent treadmill workouts, perfect for the hottest of days. Taking speed work inside in hot months ensures that you’re training well, and safely. Consider including more cross training with swimming, surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and cycling. Pool running is a great option for those with handy pool access.

3. Think shade. When the weather’s hot, run your runs in the shade and at the coolest times you can manage. Run early in the morning when the weather is the coolest, or in the evening when breezes are more likely to come up. Run on shaded paths or in neighborhood with trees. Consider plotting a route that takes you past shops or big box stores so you can duck in for a little air conditioning – or bail on the run entirely. Run on the grass or on a trail if you can.

4. Chill out. If you’re planning to run in the heat, take precautions. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen. Wear loose fitting clothing made of wicking material, and as little of it as is reasonable. Wear a hat or visor to keep sun off your face. Some evidence suggests that cooling the extremities before and during hot runs can help, so consider wetting your head, carrying a wet cloth, or even putting ice in your clothes. It’s crazy, but it works. Some runners also swear by drinking an ice cold drink just before the run.

5. Carry water. Hydrate early and often with water and, if necessary, an electrolyte replacement product. Consider your individual hydration needs and plan accordingly. Not sure how much you need to drink? A quick consultation of google will tell you everything you need to know about how to hydrate and what to avoid.

6. Consider your non-running activities carefully. Alcohol, antihistamines, and antidepressants can all have a dehydrating effect. Using them regularly, or before a run, can put you at greater risk of heat-realted illness due to dehydration. Talk with your doctor about how to take your medication, and stay safe in the heat.

Finally, protect yourself. Know the signs of heat-related illnesses and take steps to prevent problems before they start. Here are some of the basic heat-realted illnesses, including their signs and symptoms. As always, consult with your medical professional with regard to heat safety.

Heat cramps:

When dehydration leads to an electrolyte imbalance, large muscles cramp. Restore balance with good hydration and stay well hydrating during runs.

Hyponatremia:

When excessive water intake dilutes blood-sodium levels, headache, disorientation, muscle twitching can result. Emergency medical treatment is necessary. To prevent problems with hyponatremia, don’t drink more than about 32 ounces per hour and consider a sports drink over water. Talk with your medical professional about your hydration needs.

Heat exhaustion;

Dehydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance that results in a core body temperature of 102° to 104°F. This causes headache, fatigue, profuse sweating, nausea, and clammy skin. Restore balance with good hydration and stay well hydrated during runs. Slowly cool down by applying cool water the the head and neck, seek the shade and get out of the heat.

Heat stroke:

Heat stoke occurs when exertion and dehydration prevent your body from being able to regulate core temperature. Core body temperature can exceed 104° or more. Heat stroke is usually accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid pulse and disorientation. Seek emergency medical treatment immediately if heat stroke is suspected. Emergency personnel will cool and rehydrate the individual safely. While waiting for help, get out of the heat and cease activity.

Stay cool, my running friends.

Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot

I’m in Florida for Thanksgiving and, dang, it’s hot down here. Ok, I admit, it’s really a totally normal temperature for Florida in November, but it feels hot.

Mae, my non-running chihuahua and I arrived in Orlando late Sunday night, drove to my parents’ house, and went straight to bed. We are in town to take care of my mom’s pets and house while she and dad are away. Monday was a grey day, dreary and cool. I did a few things around the house, walked the dog, and took a rest day.

This morning, I woke up ready to run. By the time I fed all the pets, walked the dog, and got myself ready, the sun was above the trees and shining down. What great weather!, I thought, I can’t wait to run. About a half mile into the run, I started sweating. A lot. It was hot! Hot hot. Like center of the sun, middle of summer hot. I trudged along, feeling hotter and hotter. I began cursing my short sleeve shirt. Why didn’t I wear a tank? When it’s this hot, shorts and a tank is the only way to go. Silly me. For a while I considered taking my shirt off, but it’s a nice community with lots of elderly folks and I’ve never seen anyone running in just a sport bra here, even in the middle of summer. So, I soldiered on. I couldn’t get over how fast the day was heating up. That’s when I started passing people. Nice, happy Floridians. Every single one was wearing long pants and long sleeves. One lady I passed had on a light jacket. An older man on a cruiser bike had on a sweater (Thanksgiving-themed). A young man walking a bulldog had on a knit cap. They all looked at me in bewilderment. What’s wrong with that poor, scantily clad girl, they must have been thinking. I trotted around for about 5 miles, cooking the whole time. It was hot!

At the end of my run I looked at my mom’s thermometer. I wanted to be sure that I knew the exact temperature so that I could report to my husband at home how super hot it was in Florida. It was 63 degrees. And that’s when I realized – I’m a Northerner – and all these Real Floridians must think I’m a crazy person. Wait until they see me on tomorrow’s run…in my pale green tank top and shorts. It’s supposed to be 55.

A little Florida friend.

Friday Favorite: Handheld Hydration

It’s hot. Hot hot. Too hot for any sane people to be out running. But, being not all that sane, I have been out and about running (and some walking, I must admit) this week. I’m a weakling. I hate being hot, get lightheaded easily in the heat, and am generally dying of thirst every minute I’m hot. In order to survive my recent hot weather running streak, I’ve been relying on my water bottles. I love my little handheld bottles for short runs in hot weather. Sure, they might change my gait, but I’m pretty sure passing out would change my gait more. For those of you interested in trying handheld hydration bottles, here are my picks.

1. For short runs, and people who are sensitive to weight in their hands, try the Nathan Quickshot. Aside: I just saw that there’s an insulated Quick Shot. It’s a must try.

The Quick Shot is a little 10 ounce flask with a wicking mesh thumb/hand strap with velcro closure. It has a “race cap”, the kind that you squeeze and water shoots out, for easy sipping. It has reflective details and an ID pocket. Be warned – the only thing that fits in the pocket is the tiny ID card. Don’t plan to carry any extras. The strap part cleans up easily. I don’t know if it’s meant to be machine washable, but I’ve washed mine many times and it’s still fine. The best part about the Quick Shot is that the strap loops over the thumb and holds securely. When I’m running I can hold my hand naturally without worrying about the bottle falling off.

2. If you are looking for a bottle with a pocket, try the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Lite (with optional thermal cover, which I have). This 12 ounce bottle has an added pocket for storage. The pocket holds a Gu plus a tissue, or a packet of sport beans with a little space left over. The great thing about this bottle is the ergonomic shape. It’s slightly curved, so it fits right in the nook of my hand when running. It stay put and is bounce-free despite its larger size. The strap is soft on the hand side and it features an adjustable strap for custom fit. The strap’s soft side does absorb sweat, so this bottle can get a little gross. I suggest frequent washing.

I use the Handheld Lite when I need an extra pocket. It’s also great for races in hot weather and I’ve been known to rock it in half marathons.

Those are my top two picks for handheld hydration bottles. Being prone to mid-run thirst, I’ve tried everything and these are my clear favorites. Stay hydrated!

Runners’ Tan

I’m on vacation in Florida and having a great time. My mom lives here and she’s fit – she walks every day for miles and miles. When I come I always walk with her. This trip I had the added bonus of the Runners World Run Streak. This means that I have been logging a lot of miles and a lot of time in the Florida sun.

It started out innocently enough. What was a shadow of a tan line around my neck got a bit deeper. Then a sports bra shaped pattern emerged on my chest and neck. Next it was the sock line. Pasty white foot, tan legs. Things got worse when the shorts line appeared, despite wearing shorts and skirts of different lengths. I had a serious runners’ tan. Had.

Yesterday I remarked to my mom that I hoped I could even out my pathetic tan at the pool today. I dutifully slathered on sunscreen. I came back from the pool with a sunburn shaped like the relief of my runners’ tan. Everywhere that was white was burnt. Now I’m half pink and half tanned. Not really an improvement.

So, I’ve decided to rock my runners’ tan with pride. Farmers aren’t ashamed of their tan lines. It’s the mark of hard work and a deep tan earned through hours in the sun. I can live with that. I earned this runners’ tan.

Friday Favorites: Cool Racerback Tank

Loyal readers will know that I love consistency, so, in the spirit of creating routines, I have decided to begin a new tradition. Welcome to Friday Favorites. On Fridays, I will feature something that I love that makes my running life better.

Today, the weather is warm and the sun is shining, and I’ve been thinking spring. For spring and summer running, nothing beats the best tank top ever – the Lululemon Cool Racerback Tank.

Here’s what I love:

– It’s long. I love long tank tops.

– It doesn’t creep up and stays in place during downward facing dog.

– The fabric isn’t too workout-y. I would feel comfortable wearing my Cool Racerback as a normal tank top.

– It’s great for layering. The top really stays put and it is great for a wicking base layer.

– The seams are really flat, so there’s no armhole chafing.

– They launch new colors or patterns practically every week so I can always find one that is just right.

There you have it. The first ever Friday Favorite.

The rest of the outfit: Lululemon Gather and Crow crops, Experia socks