Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five Ways to Deal With Heat on Race Day

This weekend marks the 19th running of the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon. Runners can expect lots of great music, tons of beautiful scenery along the course and unfortunately, high temps. That's right, it's going to be hot this Sunday and runners need to prepare for that heat in order to stay safe while on the run.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

I have to admit, I really don't like running in the heat. Like, at all. Heat and humidity are my kryptonite and I have to just power through as best I can. Here are my 5 ways to deal with heat on race day:

1. Change my goals and/or plan for the race. Whatever my race plan may have been, it's immediately revised to JUST FINISH when I see the temps are going to soar on race day. There is no reason to push myself to redline to try for a goal that just may be impossible in higher temps. You can't expect to run your best in hot conditions, and it's even more out of the question if you're not used to running in those conditions. It can take weeks of warm weather running to get acclimated and going from cool temps to hot race conditions over night isn't going to be easy. Revise your race plan to something realistic to stay safe while still enjoying yourself.

2. Run slower than usual. I just can't expect to run at the same pace I do in cooler weather; it's not possible in the heat. There are plenty of theories as to what pace you should run depending on various temperatures and humidity levels, but just know that you should expect to run about 2-5 minutes slower when the temperature reaches 80*F and there is at least 60% humidity. Listen to your body, slow your pace and walk when necessary.

3. Hydrate appropriately before, during, and after your race. It's important to drink well all day, every day. Not just when I know I'm going to run. But it's even more important to hydrate well in the days leading up to a race that's going to have hot conditions. I hydrate as well as possible leading up to the race and supplement with Skratch's Daily Hydration Mix for the extra electrolytes without the higher sugar of the full training drink. I'll have one serving of this each day for a few days leading up to the race to be sure I'm not diluting my electrolytes with the increased water. Electrolytes are important for muscle and nerve function and when they're not balanced, you'll feel dizzy, nauseous, you may have muscle cramps and spasms. If you weren't planning on having fluids with you during the race, you may want to reconsider. An option is to wear a hydration belt rather than carry a water bottle. Your arms may get tired or stiff while carrying a water bottle, which can actually affect your running form. Try a belt that has a built-in holder for a water bottle and bring some water or sports drink with you. If you hate running with a hydration belt, think about a hydration vest or other system for your back. If you have never worn a belt or vest, be sure to stop at every aid station to hydrate. Every one.

4. Wear light fabrics and as little as possible to encourage evaporation of sweat. Don't forget: cotton is rotten and cotton clothing will absorb sweat and keep it next to your skin. This will feel horrible and prevent heat from leaving your skin, actually making you feel hotter! Remember, anything that touches your skin should be non-cotton, so that means shorts, undergarments and socks too! I will say that I prefer a tee to a tank in blazing sunny conditions just to save my skin a little. Whatever you wear, be sure it's moisture-wicking. There are plenty of options out there and even some that are cooling when they get wet such as Running Skirt's Keep it Chill neck gaitor. This little lovely can go on your neck, around your head, on your wrist, wherever you need it to keep you cool while you run. Running Skirts is typically at the RnR San Diego Expo so stop by and grab a gaitor. Whatever you do, at least wear a vented, moisture-wicking hat or a visor while running. This keeps the sun off your head and face and the sun out of your eyes. Run-of-the-mill baseball caps are not moisture-wicking and will hold the heat in against your head, making you much hotter than necessary. Try a cool, ventilated hat or visor and you'll feel the difference immediately. If a hat is not your thing, at least wear sunglasses. Most sport sunglasses like Tifosi and Rudy Project are light as air, have slip-proof nose pieces so they don't slide around when you sweat and have lenses with UVA/UVB protection.

5. Ice, ice baby. Freeze your water bottles the night before the race. Be sure to leave a little extra space at the top for any expansion during the freezing process (you should probably try this before the night before the race). If there is ice anywhere along the course, get it. Stick in your hat, rub it on your neck, put it in your bra. Wherever you can stand it, just to keep your body temperature down. I have even heard of runners taking a cold shower before the race so they can prolong their body temperature from rising. I have never tried this but I can see how it could work.

Remember to take it slow and listen to your body. I have dropped from a race I was using as a training run years ago because I knew the conditions were just going to be unsafe for me. Don't worry about what others are saying and doing. Do what's right for you and take the precautions you need to stay safe out there!

How do you deal with hot race conditions? 

16 comments:

  1. Slowing down and hydrating, particularly if they have something with electrolytes, is key for me. I admit that I've actually chosen a 10K over a half marathon this weekend precisely because of the heat.

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    1. Yeah, I think it's hard to readjust your race goals, especially if the race is a big goal race. But it's better to be safe and still have a good time. Have a great race this weekend! Stay cool!

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  2. Great tips and I do all the same things when I run in the heat! For sure I lower my finish line expectations. In the heat, finishing is winning.

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    1. I hate racing in the heat so finishing is definitely winning!!

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  3. Because I hate being cold, I always think I'd rather run in the heat. But then when it's hot I forget how much of a toll it really takes on our body. Good tips!

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    1. Thanks! I would much prefer running in the cold!

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  4. yeah heat is my kyrptonite as well. I just run slower and make sure to hydrate and replace electrolytes often. Good luck this weekend.

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    1. Yes! Keeping the heart rate down and trying to keep hydration up will help the most against the heat.

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  5. Have I ever told you how smart you are???

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    1. LOL! Thank you :) Have a great time this weekend and stay safe out there, my friend!

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  6. I've been dealing with the hot training conditions by just staying inside, haha! I seriously cannot run in the heat. It's hard enough that my job requires me to be outdoors most of the time. Now, winter running in four feet of snow before the snowplow comes out? I'm all over it! Great tips in this post.

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    1. I definitely prefer cold weather to warm weather for running, that's for sure!

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  7. As much as we complained over the winter, it was much easier to run in the cooler temps.

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    1. I know! We runners are hard to please! We're like Goldilocks when it comes to the weather - not too hot and not too cold!

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  8. Great plans for a hot/humid race--- good luck and have fun out there!!

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    1. Thanks, Stacey. I'm not actually racing this weekend but lots of people here in the SD area will be pounding the pavement at the RnR Half and Full this weekend. Thanks for reading!

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