Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beat the Heat: Tips for running when it's HOT!

It’s the heat more than the increase in the interval schedule that’s making our workouts real tough these days! Here are some tips for making it through during these hottest days of summer.

1. Safety first: If the heat index (temperature combined with humidity) is over 100, choose to exercise indoors.
2. Lower your expectations. Change your goal for the day – maybe just to finish the workout! Understand that every 5 degree increase in temp can lower your pace by 20-30 seconds a mile.
3. Drink extra water – consider bringing a water bottle with you during your workout, but especially be drinking a lot the day of/day before to get yourself extra hydrated. Cold water is more beneficial in these temps than room temperature water. Also, help drop your core temperature by pouring water on your head!
4. Be willing to alter your workouts – it’s okay to do more cross-training (swimming! water running!) and less running…when you do run, head out earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Sunrise is best.
5. Consider adding a sports electrolyte drink for a little more energy. Choose a natural brand that does not contain artificial flavors or colors such as Recharge or Y Water. Also check out some of the online recipes available to make your own.
6. Clothing: wear a visor and/or a sweat band; a hat will not allow the heat to escape your head. Wear performance materials that wick sweat away from the body rather than cotton.
7. Embrace your chance to soak up some vitamin D by choosing only moderate protection sunscreen made from natural ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Chemical sunblocks will increase your risk of skin cancer. There are many acceptable choices available at your local natural foods store; check out bronze sponsor Fresh & Natural for a great selection.
8. Get creative to stay cool: here are some tips I found in Runner’s World, definitely on the creative side!

Miami Ice: Steve Brookner of the Bikila Athletic Club in Miami came up with this idea while running the marathon leg of Ironman Arizona. "They had thin sponges at each aid station," he says. "So I took one and grabbed a couple of ice cubes." He put the cubes on top of the sponge, then put his hat on over both. As the ice melted into the sponge, it created a cool spot on his head and a nice trickle of water running down his neck.

The Tucson Cold Cap: Randy Accetta, president of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners and a 1996 Olympic Trials marathoner, keeps his head cool in the extreme heat of Tucson with his "cold cap." "I'll soak a baseball cap in water and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight before a morning run," he says. "An old baseball cap retains the moisture longer than the new technical hats."

The Badwater Bandanna: For years, Denise Jones puzzled over the best way to keep the competitors in the Badwater Ultramarathon cool. Finally, Jones--considered the "dean" of Badwater aid-station volunteers--came up with the answer: Lay a bandanna out in a diamond shape. Place a row of ice cubes in a horizontal line, just below one tip of the bandanna. Then roll it up "like a burrito," and tie it around your neck. "We've found that this is the best way to keep runners cool," she says. "It feels wonderful.

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