When it’s 90 in the shade and the calendar says summer is still a month away, it’s time to break out the annual hot weather running column.
Of course, a lot of heat-related precautions border on the obvious and have been covered in this space before, but many remain worth repeating.
Keep in mind – everyone reacts differently to running conditions when the thermometer starts to rise. Those who tend to tolerate the heat might have a slight advantage over those who don’t, but everyone has their limit.
Here are 10 things to consider on those scorching hot days, like a couple we’ve already experienced recently:
>1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: While water is important, make sure your electrolytes (such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium) are up to normal levels. You can ensure this by consuming a large cup of sports drink prior to running. Read labels first to make sure they carry the right stuff. Otherwise, electrolytes are available in capsule form at your local pharmacy.
>2. Made in the shade: It might not seem like much but running on something like the tree-lined Delaware River canal path on a sunny day can be less taxing than pounding the turf on a soccer field.
>3. Run early, run late: A lot of people do this year-round because of work, school, etc. anyway, so not that big a deal. But going out at daybreak or sunset usually means cooler temperatures and guaranteed less overhead sun.
>4. Build up gradually: Much has been written about heat-acclimation and all of it is probably true. No need to do two hours on that first scorcher. Start off with a few miles for the first few days and build up a tolerance.
>5. Light colors: Remember, light/white fabric tends to reflect sunlight heat while dark/black absorbs.
>6. Sunscreen/lip balm/hat: Back in the day, it seemed like a sunblock of four, eight or 15 sufficed. But now, with runners increasing their mileage, a lot of people are going as high as 30, 50 or more. If you’re going to be out for more than an hour, carry a small tube of sunscreen in your pocket and apply a second coating. A ballcap, pre-soaked in ice water, can keep you from becoming a “hot head.”
>7. Lower the training speed: On the 90-plus days, turn the pace down a notch. There’s no need to do track work when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on your local oval.
>8. Hit the shore: Yes, now with the pandemic winding down and summer upon us, break up the old routine by heading down the Jersey Shore, be it Long Beach Island, Gateway National, Ocean City, Wildwood or Cape May. Kick off the shoes and run where the water slides up to a stop on the sand. It will break up your daily routine and cool you off at the same time.
>9. Watch your diet: Summer usually means cookouts, extra snacks and, ahem, an uptick in alcohol consumption. If your long-distance training plan calls for running in the heat, be sure to keep an eye on the sugar, carbs and the suds. This will give your body a decided edge when battling the elements.
>10. Cross-train: When the heat and humidity hook up to make things really uncomfortable, it’s time to look for workout “alternatives.’’ Hop on the bicycle, jump in the lap pool, call your tennis partner or even slink down into the basement for an air-conditioned trek on the treadmill.
The bottom line to heat running: Use all the resources available to your advantage. Have fun and stay safe.
Doylestown 5K, 9:30 a.m., Bucks 5K Series, Doylestown. Contact www.doylestown5k.org
Wednesday, June 2
Raptor Run 5K, 7 p.m., Honey Hollow, New Hope. Contact www.bcas.org