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It's getting hot in these rhinos...

Tips for maintaining your running training, in the heat of the summer months



Engaging in physical activity in a hot environment poses challenges. High temperatures, combined with exercise, can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heatstroke.


Exercise generates heat within the body, and in turn, the body uses mechanisms like sweating to regulate its temperature.


When exercising in hot conditions, precautions should be taken to prevent overheating and minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses.


Tip #1 - Don't Avoid It Completely


Athletes, who train in hot conditions, can adapt to heat exposure over time. This adaptation, known as heat acclimatization, allows the body to become more efficient at dissipating heat and maintaining optimal performance in hot environments. Avoid the hottest part of the day if you can: 11:00 - 4:00 pm.


Tip #2 - Slow Down

  • Every 1° above 28° relative. Adds 1-2 bpm to your heart rate.

  • If it's feeling like 32° that adds up to 8 bpm to your normal easy effort.

    • About 2-4 seconds per km each degree.

    • If you normally run 6:00/km, your adjusted pace is now ~6:08-6:16/km.

Tip #3 - Go By Feel


In the Run for the Grapes half-marathon, I was confident in my fitness to achieve a 1:11-12 finish time. However, it was an extremely hot day with a high dew point. Despite feeling strong and maintaining my goal race effort, I completed the race in 1:15. Calculators considering humidity (dew point) estimated my performance to be equivalent to my original goal time of 1:11-12.


Humidity therefore poses greater risks because there needs to be a gradient differential required for sweat on the surface of the skin to evaporate. The energy required to break the liquid's attractions and transform into a gas is taken from the surrounding molecules, which results in a decrease in the average kinetic energy (or temperature) of the remaining liquid molecules.


Tip #4 - Split it Up


If you really need to get in the volume, consider splitting your big effort up into two parts. Run in the morning, then in the evening. It will lower the overall heat accumulation and exposure while giving you a unique stimulus.

"I run twice a day, everyday, except for Christmas." – Haile Gebrselassie

Tip #5 - Hydration


Even mild dehydration, as low as 2% loss of body weight due to fluid loss, can negatively impact running performance. Dehydration can lead to increased heart rate, decreased blood volume, reduced sweat rate, impaired thermoregulation, and decreased exercise capacity. It can also lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, and poor concentration, all of which can hinder your running performance and increase the risk of injury.


Here are some hydration strategies to consider:

  • Pre-Run Hydration: Drink (500-600 ml) of water or a sports drink 2–3 hours before running.

  • During-Run Hydration: Consume fluids during longer runs or intense workouts. Amount and frequency depend on factors like sweat rate, weather, and personal preference.

  • Sports drinks can be helpful:

    • Solutions that contain 6-8% carbs by volume: 15g / (240 ml)

    • Sodium: Typically 100–250 milligrams per 240 ml of the drink.

    • Potassium: Generally 25–75 milligrams per 240 ml of the drink.

  • Post-Run Hydration: Drink 500-750 ml of fluid for every pound (0.5 kg) lost during exercise. Water, sports drinks, or water-rich foods aid rehydration.

Summary


Engaging in physical activity in hot environments can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. Exercise generates heat, and the body relies on mechanisms like sweating to regulate temperature. To minimize the risk, it is advised to adapt to heat exposure over time (heat acclimatization), slow down the pace during hot conditions, listen to your body's signals, split workouts into cooler parts of the day, and maintain proper hydration before, during, and after exercise.


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