She Runs and Writes: Tips for the Heat

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By: Dawn Garland

Quick question- how does it feel where you are?  Wait, wait- let me guess.  It's beyond hot.  Hotter than hot.  Melt-your- face-off, seriously-test-the-limits-of-your-deodorant hot? 

If this is not the case for you, consider yourself extremely lucky and never ever move.  Here in ye olde Athens, we've had temps in the high 90's with "feels like" over 100.  There is a running store in Atlanta that has a fantastic shirt that I am always tempted to buy.  "Heat, hills, and humidity".  That could not be more of an accurate depiction of my training these days.  

So, what is there to do?  How do we keep training and achieving our goals when all we want to do is sit under a ceiling fan with a gallon of sweet tea?  (No? Just me?)  So glad you asked...

1.  Change your training time

Let me assure you that I am the LEAST happy morning person that you have ever met.  Ever.  EVER.  However, I also know that I am even less of a heat exhaustion person.  Hence why my alarm is set for 5:00 am every weekday morning.  I'd much rather run in 70-ish degrees than 90.  If you can wait till dusk or later, that is also a better idea.  Being mindful not only of the heat risks, but also the sun damage that can happen if you train during the heat of the day.  Figure out if you are more of a morning person or a night person and move forward accordingly.

2.  Possibly join a gym

Can't change when you train?  Locked into your current daily schedule?  Look into joining a gym for the summer.  Most gyms offer 3 month or shorter term memberships.  You'll have access to treadmills and ellipticals and air conditioning.  Shop around in your area for the best rate.  And don't be afraid to ask for the best deal.  Tell them you're actively looking and price checking.  

3.  Invest in better workout wear

Do not, under any circumstances, wear anything cotton.  I know it's tempting to pull on that cute cotton race t-shirt to wear on your run.  You will be doing yourself ZERO favors.  Cotton does not breathe and you will just drown in your own sweat.  You need to get anything labeled "dry fit" or "sweat wicking".  They are man made fibers that are specifically designed to pull the sweat away from your skin to both help cool you off and help prevent chafing.  Under Armor is truly the pioneer in this field.  You absolutely cannot go wrong with any of their products.  But so many other companies have come a long way as well.  Look for shirts or tanks with vents or mesh paneling for good air circulation on your chest and back.  You can even get sweat wicking socks for those of you who don't want to feel like you're running in puddles.

4.  Hydrate

No. Not just after your run. Not just right before your run.  ALL THE TIME.  There is not a minute of my workday that I don't have a giant 32 oz Tervis cup with water on my desk.  Not a water fan?  Guess what- any decaffeinated or caffeine free beverage counts towards your hydration.  Gatorade or Powerade, decaf tea, decaf coffee, lemonade, juice, pick your poison!  If you want the electrolytes without all the added sugar of a sports drink, give Nuun tablets a try.  They come in great flavors without all the added junk.  Semi gross rule of thumb- the clearer your pee is, the more hydrated you are.  Keep an eye on that during the day to see if you need to amp up your fluid intake.

5.  Recovery

Make sure that you have ample time to recover after an intense workout in the heat.  Get fluids in as soon as possible to compensate for your excessive sweating.  Make sure to get to someplace cool to bring your body temperature down.  Cool or cold showers are always a good idea if that's possible.  Temperature recovery is just as important as muscle recovery when it's 90+ degrees outside.

How are you doing on your goals?  Feeling strong?  My next race is the World's Largest 10K.  Yes- I am running the Peachtree Road Race for the 3rd year in a row.  I absolutely love the Peachtree.  It really is the legend that everyone always makes it out to be.  I'm looking forward to big crowds, a festive atmosphere, and Waffle House at the finish line.  Hey- if you can't get sweaty and gross with 10,000 other runners, who can you get sweaty with??

Take care of yourselves in this heat.  That's the best advice I can give you.  Let me know what you guys are up to and what you're training for.  Until next time, run on...


Dawn Garland is a native of Tampa, FL. She reads, she writes, she knits and does not believe that any college football conference can live up to the SEC. Dawn works at the University of Georgia as an analyst/consultant and her biggest accomplishment in life so far is the walking, talking sports almanac that is her eight year old son.