Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Tips for Summer Running!

Because of my crazy schedule, my running isn't always at a set time. I often have to plug in a run when the time opens up. That usually works out fine, but yesterday...well, yesterday was a different story. I ended up having from 5:00 to 6:00PM free for my run. So, I decided to do my normal 5-miler. Sounds good, right? Time to warm-up, do my run, and cool-down. The only thing I forgot was that at 5PM is was about 95°! And the humidity seemed about the same. That 5-miler felt more like a 10-miler. I honestly almost had to stop and walk. Luckily, I had stopped by the convenient store before my run and picked up a bottle of Gatorade which I carried with me on my run. When I plan better, I usually carry coconut water (yep, 100% coconut water) which does a better job of keeping me hydrated, but at least I had my Gatorade or I definitely would have been walking.
I should have known better. A few years back I suffered from heat exhaustion while on a long run preparing for San Francisco. It was an out-and-back route that I was running with my group. It was a day not much unlike yesterday, but it was early on a Saturday morning. On the return portion of the run, I felt the call of nature (the kind that you can't take care of behind a tree) and told my buddies that I was headed up to the park that was just a little ways off our route to use the facilities. Got there in time. Took care of business. But heading back out I suddenly could not move. I felt dizzy and my legs just wouldn't move. No one was around, so I gave up on trying to run and just walked. I walked about a mile back to the greenway we were running on and decided, I was in trouble. My head hurt bad. Everything looked cloudy, and I was a little disoriented. Luckily I saw an older gentleman mowing his lawn and asked him if I could use his phone. I called my wife and she came a picked me up complete with that look of "what in the hell were you thinking?!!" It was a quite ride home.

Yesterday was a good reminder to me. Doesn't really matter how long the run is, you can still get yourself in deep doodoo if you're not well hydrated and if the heat index is dangerously high.

So this brings me to my 10 Rules for Summer Running. And yes, I need to practice what I preach.

1. Acclimatize! Give yourself time to acclimatize to the heat. You might be able to run a 10-miler at an 8:00-pace, but in the summer heat, you may have to pull it back some until your body has acclimated to the hotter conditions. The American Running & Fitness Association recommends that on your first run in the heat, you should cut your intensity by 65% to 75%. Then over the next 10 days, slowly build back to your previous level.
2. Check the Index! Before heading out on your run, be sure to check the air quality index and the heat index. If the air quality index is code orange and you're sensitive to air pollution and/or have upper respiratory problems you may not want to run. If it's a code red, it's not suitable for anyone to run.
The Heat Index tells you what the temperature feels likes when combining the air temperature and the relative humidity. For example, if the air temperature is 90° and the relative humidity is 70%, then it's going to feel as if it's 106°! Ouch! Not good running conditions!
Check the weather section of your local TV station's website. It will usually provide such information.
3. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Many runners remember to rehydrate after their run and some consume water or sports drink during the run, but it's even more important to be well hydrated before you run. As a rule of thumb drinking 16oz of water 2hrs before your run will ensure good hydration levels and give the water time to pass through your system so you don't have to make any pit stops during your run.
Hydration during your run depends on the temperature and the length of your run. If you're running 4 miles or less, you probably won't need to carry any water with you. If you're running longer than 4 miles you may need to wear a hydration belt or stash some water/sports drink along your route, especially if it's hot and humid.
Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink. If you're thirsty that means you're already low on fluids. Also, as you age, your thirst mechanism isn't as efficient and your body may be well on it's way to dehydration and you may not even feel thirsty.
For the first 45-60 minutes water is fine. After 60 minutes, you 'll need to start using a sports drink or supplementing with a sports gel or a salty food like pretzels. After 60 minutes (and sometimes sooner if it's really hot and you sweat a lot) you begin to deplete vital electrolytes (i.e., sodium, potassium, etc.). Sodium is needed in order for your body to absorb the fluids your ingesting. Ever get that sloshing feeling late in a run? That's probably due to your body being low on sodium and not being able to absorb the fluids you're drinking, so it just sits in your stomach and sloshes around not doing you any good.
After your run, you need to replace the water you've lost. A good way to check this is to weigh before your run and then weigh after your run. Drink 16oz of water for every pound of water lost. After you do the weigh-in a few times you'll get a feel for how much rehydration you need depending on how much you sweated and you probably won't need to actually weigh yourself.
On a hot long run, pack an extra bottle of just plan water. Don't drink this one. Use it to pour a little water on your head periodically during your run. This actually helps increase the evaporation-cooling effect.
4. Run early! If at all possible, run in the early morning. The hottest part of the day is actually around 5PM. So, if you can't run until after work, wait until later in the evening.
5. Go technical! Wear light-colored running tops and bottoms made of technical fabrics that allow the moisture to evaporate more quickly. This will help you cool off more efficiently as well as help to prevent chafing. Speaking of chafing. If this is a problem for you, try Lanacane's new Anti-Chafing Gel. It dries on contact and isn't ooie-gooie like some other anti-chafing products. It's also doesn't stain your clothes and is moisture-proof. It works really well.
6. Grab a lid and some shades! Be sure to wear sunglasses and a hat or visor. This will help to keep the sun out of your eyes as well as the sweat. Be sure the glasses provide 100% UV protection and that the hat is made of light technical fabric that promotes evaporation.
7. Change your route! If your normal running route is treeless, find one that provides more shade. If this isn't possible and you have access to a treadmill, do you runs on really hot days indoors.
8. Lather it on! Be sure to wear sunscreen. Research has shown that runners have a higher rate of skin cancer. This is probably due to the fact that we're outside more than the average person and during the summer months we're outside and wearing less clothing than the average person. So, be sure to use a sports sunscreen that's waterproof with a SPF of 15 or higher.
9. Buddy-Up! In the severe heat, be sure to run with a buddy. That way you can keep tabs on each other. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you're starting to suffer the effects of the heat, but a buddy may be able to spot the signs before it's too late.
10. Have a Plan. Be sure to let your family and/or friends know the running route your taking. If you're gone too long, they'll know where to look for you. If you run on rural greenways or trails, you may even want to pack your cell phone. Better safe than sorry.


Iron Mike said...

That difficult 5PM run may have seemed like a bad idea, but what better way to inspire a Top 10 list?

Thanks for the info about coconut water, I'm initially a little scared of the cost. But, you'll like this, I google'd 'Coconut Water' and you're blog is one of the top hits. You do practice what you preach!

Back in my early 20's, if I had known what kind of royalty treatment Target provides injured customers, I would have hung out there every Friday night performing stunts I saw on Jackass.

Seriously, glad your daughter was OK.

Thanks for the tips, no matter how comfortable we feel in the heat, we can always practice a little more prevention.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Iron Mike! Yep, there's usually some good that results from the bad. The coconut water is a bit pricey. I found that if I order it by the case from Earth Fare, I save 10%. Helps a little. I usually only drink it on my long runs, but could have definitely benefited from drinking it yesterday.
Have a good one man!

Tim Wilson said...

Good reminder for us. I try to not run in the heat of the day, but one day a week (today) I do just that. A 6:00 pm run with the running group. I am always texting my daughters all day..... drink drink drink.... since they run with me on these days.

abbi said...

Thanks for the tips. I've been curious about coconut water. Saw it mentioned on another blog as well...probably going to have to try it!

junevidrine@msn.com said...

here in houston the humidity is WAY higher in the morning, but yes with lower temps (80usually at 6:30am)...so to me its way more brutal in the morning. i wait till about 6:30 in the evening (most days) to run my weekday runs because i can have shade and less humidity.

on saturdays though my long runs are done starting at around 5am... :o)

i linked you off my blog because i thought this was perfect and i had been thinking of doing a similar post.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Tim! You're a good dad!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Abbi! Yep, give it a try. I swear by it. Is a little pricey, but maybe if more of us buy it, it will come down. LOL!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Junie B! Good point...the best times to run probably vary around the country. Thanks for the link-love!!

mistyeyed said...

Great advice, especially the buddy up one. It's amazing how many people get sick or in some cases die from heat exhaustion. Thanks again for the great reminder!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Mistyeyed! I'll never forget an article I read in Runner's World a while back about a teen who decided to run a different route than his normal one and during his run he passed out and eventually died. No one knew where he was. If he had called to say he had changed his running plans, they may have gotten to him in time to save him. That story has never left me.

mommaof3ontherun said...

I live in Florida and face the heat often. Great to remind everyone about how much the heat and humidity impacts us!

I wonder about the hydration/fueling. Do you know how much the rules change for being overweight? I didn't know if that 60 minutes and plain water should be fine is true for me. I've been using the 30--45minute rule instead....just wondering if I am being over the top. Thanks!

Kathy said...

How accurate is that chart? I can't believe all my morning runs are at 124F. :) I am almost always running at 29-30C with 85-90% humidity. That's normal. I do enjoy it when it is cloudy or just before dawn though.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Christinaleigh! I'm not sure about drinking sooner, but it probably makes sense. The standard for water per day (not running) is 8 8oz glasses per day. An overweight person needs to drink an additional 8oz for each 25lbs overweight. That's because the overweight person has a higher metabolic demand. So, an overweight person may very well need to switch to a sports drink sooner based on that. Hope that helps some.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Kathy! Well, there's a range. I ended up picking one on the higher end of the range. I replaced it with one from Weather.com. This one put your temperature/humidity heat index at 102 to 105. Another reason this may not seem quite as hot to you is that because the temperature and humidity is pretty constant where you live, you've acclimated to it. Someone visiting you that lives in milder condidtions would probably be running at a snails pace at first. LOL!

Mark Zarro said...

I would also add that if your running a race - where stopping for a drink means you are losing ground - there are a number of very good hydration packs available as well. These typically use a bite valve, allowing you to drink while running. Admittedly that is probably overkill for general running, but can make a difference when running in a race.

Kenley said...

Thad, thanks for this post. I have been working on my hydration. At work (this may seem weird) but I have a liter bottle with a sports cap. I actually set my timer to go off every 10 minutes and take a sip of H2O. I try to do at least 2 liters a day for my hydration. As soon as I get up I sip water. I am sipping water all day. Oh, and I tried the coconut water...excellent pre and post hydration source. Deep DooDoo is what I try to avoid, except for morning deposits. As far as the heat goes, I have been finding shadier routes. Also, when it is hotter than normal, I actually warm up more to acclimatize myself to the heat. For long runs, I avoid the sun for the most parts. If it's really hot, I just treadmill it. Thanks for the info, and I can not say enough about that coconut water. Awesome. Take care.

Nicki said...

Great reminders for all of us. I always run with my cell phone and make sure that were I am running, I have service as I frequently go out and am unsure of my final route.

I am going to try some coconut water this weekend and put all these into practice when the northeast gets its first big heatwave of the year next week as I am wrapping up training for the Boilermaker on 7/11.

Will said...

Thad - thanks for the link on the free sample of the Lanacane anti-chafing gel. I usually use Body Glide but will try the Lanacane (maybe it is cheaper).

RunnerDude said...

Hi Nicki!
The cell phone is a great idea!

Let me know how the coconut water goes. I love it! There was even an article in our local paper on it today!!

Runner with a dilema said...

Hi, I'm currently 22 year old runner on a Divison 1 colege cross country team and i'm having a difficult time with pace and summer running. Last year I ran the 10k at 35:35 at the regional meet. Anyways all my current runs have been in the 6:05-6:30 pace range all my runs are in the 7-10 mile range. Am i going to fast for summer running? I feel ok during the actual run but when I wake up in the morning I have absolutely no motivation to go run, once I actually go run I feel better but its been taking me about 2 hrs to actually go and run. Its driving me crazy I feel like if I run slow people will judge me as a slow runner and also if I run slow i'll lose some of my fitness for when cross country starts and won't be good. Oh I also made it to nationals in cross country last season. Any advice would be greatly appreciated :/

RunnerDude said...

Hi Runner With a Dilema!Summer running can really zap you, especially if you're running in extreme temps and humidity. Be sure that you're well hydrated before your runs and rehydrate after your runs.

All sports, even cross-country have periodization or cycles(pre-season, in-season, post-season, off-season).Early Summer is typcially the off season for cross-country. This is a great time to do some resistance training and light running.

Later in the summer your running mileage should begin to pick up but the intensity is the lowest at this time. These workouts are geared towards building a base. The goal is to prepare yourself to handle more intense workouts once the season begins, and reduce the risk of injury. Doesn't mean every run has to be a long slow run, but longer intervals (e.g. mile repeats), tempo runs, fartleks, some hills, and pick-ups, with a slight increase in mileage each week.

The lack of motivation may be a result of over-training. Here's link to a post a did a while back on the signs of over-trianing. http://ncrunnerdude.blogspot.com/2010/01/recognizing-signs-of-overtraining-and.html If you know your normal resting heart-rate, try taking it just as you wake up. If it's just a vew beats more than your normal resting heart rate, that's often a sign of over-training.

In normal training, you have a certain level of fitnes. When you ramp it up, you actually dip below that level of fitness (for a short time) while your body adapts. That's called the gain threshold. As your body regenrates, builds muscle, and gets stronger, you pull out of that gain threshold and rise above that original level of fitness. But, if you overtrain, you never allow yout body time to heal and thus you never get out of the gain threshold. If you continue to over-train, you run a high risk of injury.

It's hard when you're young, but rest and some slower runs are actually equally as important as the hard, fast speed workouts. And like you pointed out, a lot of it is a mental thing. I hear ya when you say you're worried about fellow runners perceiving you as a slow runner, if you slow down your runs. Belive it or not, the vast majority of the runners out there who see you running will think your "slow" 7:00-7:30 Long Slow Runs are at lightening speed. Save your speed for closer to pre and in-season. And even then allow yourself some days of easy runs.

As for now, you may benefit from a few days of complete rest to rejuvenate yourself both physically and mentally.

Keep me posted, I want to know how the rest of your summer goes.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Runner with a dilema! Me again...just read Matt Fitzgerald's new book, Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running By Feel. You should read it. I think you'll get a lot out of it. Great book.