Sunday, July 18, 2010

Running in the Heat

Just finished up a 10 and a half miler in 80 degree, 60% Humidity Heat. Started in 72 degree, 100% humidity. Glad I started by 7:30 am, otherwise I don't know how I would've done it. Took me over 2 hours to accomplish it.

Thought it would be good to just blog a little about running in this type of weather. All runners need to adjust their times when they are faced with temperatures and humidity like this. These are general rules to follow in running in running in anything above 60. Jeff Galloway talks about dressing and acclimating with the 10 plus rule. Temperature plus 10 equals what you are running in after you hit the 60 degree mark. This would mean that you should expect that your body is running in 80 degree temperature when it's 70 degrees on the barometer. So anything 60 or above puts me in a singlet and shorts. But there are also rules to follow to account for what you are doing to your body.

-Hydrate before, during and after every run. Thirst is not a good guide for filling up. Your urine should be clear in judging whether you are properly hydrated.

-Sun screen should always be used. Look for a 'Sports' type of sunscreen, the kind that won't run off as soon as you start sweating. I use one that is a spray (easy to apply) that has a UV protection of 50. Coppertone has a spray that covers these two criteria and is available in bulk at Sam's Club. You may think that's overkill, but 2 plus hours in the sun is pushing it for any sunscreen that is dealing with the sweat loss of most runners. One last note on this, sunscreen also keeps the skin cool, which has the added benefit beyond sun protection for the runner.

-If you are running for more than an hour, always use lubricate your 'friction points'. Any place on your body where the clothes meet (armpit, groin area, nipples, feet, etc.) will bleed when heated up with a combination of temperature, humidity and friction. Body Glide, lotion or just plain Vaseline works for taking care of this.

-Fueling – I'm sure that you realize to bring water. How much depends on what heat you are running in, but a quick guide. Remember if you are taking Gels, you will need more water along because the body needs water to break down carbohydrates in your system. So if you normally take 3 ounces of water for each one ounce of Gel, double that on hot days. I know the warning about hydrothermia that is always flagged in all marathons guides, but on hot days you shouldn't be going for any PR anyway. There are 100 runners dehydrated at a race for every runner that is over hydrated. A word about Gels or sports drinks during hot days. Given the choice between getting carbohydrates or water into your system, the body will shut down faster without water than without carbohydrate. So make water your first priority. How much water? 5 ounces taken every 10-15 minutes is normal, more on hot days.

Now for the 'meat' of my Running in the Heat Blog. How should one adjust their running goals for running in the heat? Many articles have been written about this, but it comes down to a plain simple fact. For every 1.5 degree in temperature above 60 degrees, a runner's performance will be negatively affected by 1 to 2 percent.

So an example from my run today and some quick math might help illustrate this. I planned on running an 11 minute mile pace for 2 hours. Before my start, the temperature was 72 degrees. Since I consider myself a 'conditioned' runner (one that is not new to running, runs 3 or more times a week, and have been running in this type of weather) I need to adjust my time by 12 percent (1.5 percent average for each 1.5 degree increase in temperature. So 1.12 times 11 minutes = 12 minutes, 20 seconds per mile. I ended up with a 12:30 MPM but considering that the temperature was increasing, I was able to complete the 2 hour goal.

Humidity plays a big factor, but you can adjust your own time after you've accounted for the temperature adjustment.

Remember, just one run that you overheat can set you back a month or two in keeping your body regulated. Using these practices can keep you running through the summer and put you in perfect share for a fall marathon/race.


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