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Life in Motion

Competition Running in the Heat

Sports & Exercise

Running outside during hot weather can be tough on your body. The warmer the weather, the more challenging it becomes to cool your body, so it is important to take precautions when running in the heat. Whether you are hitting the pavement on an ordinary day or are participating in a competitive race, here are some helpful tips:

Attire: Dress for the occasion. Wear clothing that is lightweight, light-colored and loose. Choose moisture wicking clothing that will permit sweat to pass through it without being absorbed, making you cooler. Light colored attire will help to deflect the sun. You should also wear sunscreen with an SPF that is 30 or higher as well as a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.

Make adjustments: Go easy on yourself, taking weather conditions and your surroundings into account. Don’t try to push yourself, you may need to take walking breaks, slow your pace and save hard efforts for cooler weather. If it is a race day, you might need to scale back the goals you set for your performance, which may be achieved in better weather conditions. You do not want to risk overheating or over exhaustion if you push yourself too much.  

Hydration: Heat illness can develop if you are not well hydrated. Hydration should be maintained on a continuing basis, not just during exercise or on the day of your race. To improve your hydration level, drink enough fluids throughout the day. If you are hydrated you will be equipped to handle the heat leading to a more effective run. In addition to drinking water, consume sports drinks which are high in potassium and sodium. Sports drinks help to keep your performance level up and your body temperature down while replacing the salt and water that you lose while sweating.

Eat a good meal: A combination of carbs and protein will aid in recovery and fuel your run. A good combination of food to eat could be a banana and peanut butter with a bagel, but experiment with what works best for you. You’ll want to consume your pre-race meal about 20-40 minutes beforehand. This will provide your muscles with much needed energy for your race.

Know your body and your limits: The effects of dehydration (cramping, decreased performance, increased heart rate, etc.) can occur with losing as little as 1% of body fluids. You may need to seek medical attention if you start to feel lightheaded or are disoriented. Medical conditions such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration can develop if the necessary precautions are not taken. You should get out of the sun and stop running if you have any of these symptoms.

Running in the heat can be done safely if you make some adjustments and are prepared for the elements.

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