In Canada, we are not too often exposed to extreme hot weather conditions, however, we are often exposed to dramatic temperature changes. This presents us with the challenge of being sure we are properly prepared for hot and cold weather running. Many runners work their winter holidays around a race in a warm climate so be sure you take the same precautions should you be one of the lucky snowbirds escaping the joy of winter running.
Heat exhaustion is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. Runners suffering from heat exhaustion can die - so be careful in the heat and watch yourself and those training with you for any heat exhaustion. At the first sign of any symptoms stop running, cool off and get medical help immediately!
Loss of concentration, hot and cold flashes, clammy skin, stopped sweating, nausea, rapid buildup of heat in the head, goose bumps and slurred speech are all symptoms of heat exhaustion.
There are some precautions you can take that will make your hot weather running more fun and safer.
The following tips will help:
- Drink at least two cups of water before and a cup for every 15-20 minutes during your run.
- Water is the best drink for runs up to 3 hours; over 3 hours we suggest Gatorade but be sure to use in training prior to using it in race.
- Wear a vented cap, sun visor, sunglasses and protective sunscreen. If you are sun sensitive or concerned about sun exposure, wear some of the new long sleeve Coolmax or Drylyte shirts. They are both safe and cool.
- Vaseline under your arms and inner thighs and gentlemen - around the nipples and ladies - under the bra line. This will reduce chafing - a common problem in the summer months.
- Avoid the use of alcoholic beverages. They will only make you feel warmer as their calories are burned quickly, raising your metabolic rate and body temperature. The main reason to avoid alcohol is the diuretic effect and risk of dehydration.
- Adjust your intensity to the temperature. In extreme conditions, slow down your pace.
- Increase your intake of vitamin C. It is a natural and effective defense against heat stroke, cramps, prickly heat rash and exhaustion.
- Let someone know your route if you are running alone. Better still, run with a buddy. You'll run with less intensity and it will be more social.
- If you plan to race on a hot weather holiday, give yourself 4 to 5 days to adjust to the heat.
- Early mornings are the best time to run. Sunset runs can catch you out in the dark.
- Water running in the hotel outdoor pool can be very social and provide a cool high quality workout.
- Make sure you have a variety of fruits in your diet. Watermelon, oranges, bananas, strawberries are a good way to take in vitamin C and potassium - two nutrients that are lost when we sweat.
- Take a fresh change of clothes with you if you are running out of a park so you don't catch a chill after the run.
- Occasionally savour a low fat frozen treat to reward yourself for keeping the daily workout fun!
- Skim milk is also a great cool drink. It contains a very low fat content with only 10-12% fat calories.