Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Run in the Heat & Humidity

So most of y'all know that it's HOT in Houston and this awful weather isn't going anywhere too fast. In fact running doesn't really become enjoyable outside until practically November and even then you still have some rough days.

The worst part about this lovely Indian Summer, as some call it, is the humidity for us Houstonians. I know that there are MANY other hot and humid places even around this time of year. As an asthmatic, the humidity is killer. Here are some tips and tricks on how to conquer the weather on your runs now that distance training season is among us!

1. Wear the appropriate gear.
Make sure you are wearing sweat wicking clothing. Cotton t-shirts and shorts will just cling to your body collecting more and more sweat. Sweat is your glands excreting excess heat through your skin. Humidity doesn't allow sweat to evaporate, so the excess heat is sitting on your skin. Appropriate heat gear will help to extract sweat and cool you off during a hot, humid run.

2. Carry water with you.
Heat and humidity both make you sweat. And if you're me, you sweat a lot. Losing too much water and electrolytes on a run can cause you to become dizzy or even pass out. Heat exhaustion is very common and has happened to me. The worst part is that once you suffer from heat exhaustion, it comes back much more quickly. Water is key to avoid dehydration which causes your body to go into survival mode. Don't forget that water can also cool you off! Don't be afraid to dump some on your head or the back of your neck if you have extra to spare!

3. Run in the morning or late evening.
If you need to beat the heat, run in the mornings. The sun's powerful rays haven't yet graced us, but Mother Earth's humidity sure has. If you're running in the morning, plan for higher humidity percentages, less sun and cooler temps. If you need to beat the humidity, run in the late evenings {preferably with a running buddy!}. As the day goes on, humidity generally decreases. If you wait to run until after dinner and the sun has gone down, you won't have crazy high humidity or temps.

One more thing, when checking the weather, pay attention to the heat advisory. Just because it says it's only 75 degrees doesn't mean that's what it feels like! Humidity can quickly make a 75 degree morning feel like it's 80+ degrees!

4. Slow down.
Guess what? It's okay to slow it down and not run at your normal pace. Lately, I've been doing my long runs at a 9:20-9:40 min/mile pace as opposed to my usual 8:50-9:15 min/mile pace. And it's okay! As my running coach Grady always reminds us, it's all about time on your feet during long runs, not how fast you go. Save your speed for hills, speed sessions and most importantly race day.

5. Don't be afraid to run in the rain.
Forecast says that isn't going to be a little wet? Instead of skipping that run you had planned for after work, go for it! {As long as there is no thunder and lightning of course!} Rain will bring in cooler temps and you're going to be sweaty and dirty anyways, so what's a little water going to do? This will also help prepare you for less than desirable race day conditions. I mean, I ran my marathon in the rain :)

6. Listen to your body.
The most important tip I can give you about running in the heat and humidity is listen to your body. I cannot stress this enough. If your body is telling you to slow down, do it. If you are parched and craving water, drink water immediately. If you're getting dizzy and need to stop {for just a minute or maybe even end your run early}, do it. The early warning signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke are: headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, tingly skin and confusion {source}. If you experience any of these, call it quits for the day. A shorter run than scheduled is much better than a trip to the hospital.

Remember that your body knows best and you know your body best. Listen to it on those nasty days!

So there you have it. Nothing crazy out of the ordinary and it's not rocket science. Just keep these six tips in mind to make running in the heat and humidity a little more bearable. Personally, I'm looking forward to 60 degree mornings so that I can breathe better!

Do you have any additional hot or humid weather running tips?
Have you ever suffered from heat exhaustion? 

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