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5 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Heat

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PicThis Spring has brought with it some wacky weather; torrential rain, flooding, multiple 80+ degree days in a row followed by 40°F mornings and the allergies have been fierce. This can really wreak havoc on an outdoor workout schedule or effectively getting a new workout routine off the ground. Now I cannot really help you on the allergy front, other than to say honor your body and rest or take the workout inside on really tough allergy days. I can however give you my 5 tips for dealing with and acclimating to the warmer weather.

Now if the temperatures creep up gradually this warmer weather may not affect you if you have a regular exercise program. As the temperatures warm up you may just adjust to them as they are rising. The challenge comes into play when we have this roller coaster of cold/hot, cold/hot. On those cool 45-55°F mornings you feel great. Then you hit a hot humid morning of 70°F and the wheels seem to fall off. Enter my 5 tips for getting through the spring heat up.

  1. Check the temperature before you go – Did you know that an ideal cardio temperature is about 55°F?
  2. Dress appropriately – A good rule of thumb for this is to dress for 20°F warmer than the outside temperature. This works at all times of the year, but I find it especially good at this change of season. If you check the temperature and it is 55°F it is not our instinct to put on running shorts or a skirt and a t-shirt or a tank top. It would be our instinct to put on pants and long sleeves. But if you translate that temperature to 75°F you may find you are a little chilly at the beginning but much happier at the end of your cardio workout and much less at risk of overheating. If you are looking for some additional info on gear check out Get in Gear.
  3. Take it slow – I cannot stress this enough. For every 5° above 55°F you should slow your pace by approximately 30 seconds until you have sufficiently adapted to the increased temperatures. This means that if you walk a 15 minute mile in cooler temperatures on an 80°F afternoon you would adjust your pace to 17.5 or 18 minute miles. If you are faster same rules apply. If you are a solid 10 minute miler, your pace would be increased to 12.5 minute miles. It can take 3 to 4 weeks to completely adapt to the warmer temperatures. During that time there may be good days and there may be slow days. Once you settle back into the sustained higher temps it is safe to work on increasing your pace times. But it is important to give your body the adjustment period.
  4. Hydrate and Fuel – The first time I trained for an endurance race I was required to carry a water bottle. I thought “ugg I can’t drink while I’m running.” How wrong I was! Now I do not leave the house for a run without a running water bottle and neither should you! And if taking the dogs for a length of any significance I bring a collapsible bowl for the dogs as well. (In the heat they need it more than we do, since they have fur coats.) A couple notes about hydration. First, not everyone requires the same amount of hydration or mix of electrolytes. I sweat and am really warm when I run, therefore I consume a reasonable amount of water and electrolytes while I run because I’m losing it through my sweat. For someone that stays cooler while they exercise the same quantities of water and electrolytes may not be necessary. A quick and dirty way to check your hydration (other than minding the body signs above) is to weigh yourself. If you are the same weight after a workout as before it is a good bet that your fluid intake was relatively in line with what you needed. If you are less then when you went out, you did not consume enough. And if you are heavier, you may have consumed too much. There are down sides to both becoming dehydrated as well as over hydrating. If you consume too much water the level of electrolytes/sodium in your body can be reduced to a dangerous level. This is Hyponatremia. While I do think this is far less common than dehydration, it can happen when training for long periods of time, usually in excess of 1.5 hours and over hydrating.
  5. “If you listen when your body whispers, you will not have to hear it scream.” Unknown – This may be the most important tip in this post. I have run a number of endurance races and sometimes May and June can be unseasonably warm on race day, where it was cool during your training runs. I have always found it bothersome when runners are surrounded by paramedics and unable to stand because they are suffering from varying degrees of heat exhaustion or worse, heat stroke. At some point their body said slow down, drink, get electrolytes and they simply pushed on. Here are the signs to heed.
      1. Heat Cramps – side “stitches” or leg/muscle cramps – This is a good indicator that you need to increase your electrolytes with your hydration.
      2. Heat Exhaustion – thirst, fatigue, weakness, pale cool skin, profuse sweating – Hydrating with an electrolyte, get into the shade or a cool building, or slow your pace. Walking it off is a better alternative to the ramifications of heat illness.
      3. On your way to Heat Stroke – chills or goose bumps, faintness/dizziness, headache, nausea, sweating stops – Any of the above are solid signs you are in trouble. Slow your pace, find shade, rest for a bit if possible, get into a cool place, slowly drink and replenish electrolytes.
      4. Heat Stroke – Any and all of the above with strong and rapid pulse, hot and dry skin and onset of confusion – This requires medical attention. Heed the signs above and you should not find yourself in this place.

    If you want to read some more about listening to your body check out this earlier post.

Whether you are running or walking or trying a combination of the two an uptick in the temperature can have a significant impact on your pace and general overall condition. Listen to your body! Heed the signs and give yourself the time to adjust to increasing temperatures. There is always another day to get a faster training in or another race to achieve a personal record. You only have this one amazing body to live in. Take care of it and listen when it whispers. It is never fun dealing with the screams.

I would love to hear your stories and how the heat affects you. If you have questions drop me an email. If you liked this post enter your email address above on the right to get more of our updates or Like us on Facebook below and share it with your friends. Have fun out there and be safe.

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