When the temperatures rise, have a cool race plan

When it’s 90 in the shade and the calendar says summer is still a month away, it’s time to take out the hot weather annual column.

Of course, many heat-related precautions are borderline obvious and have already been covered in this space, but many are worth repeating.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to operating conditions when the thermometer begins to rise. Those who tend to tolerate heat may have a slight advantage over those who don’t, but each has their limits.

Here are 10 things to consider on these scorching days, as a couple we’ve been through recently:

  1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: While water is important, make sure your electrolytes (such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium) are at normal levels. You can make sure of this by consuming a large cup of sports drink before you run. Read the labels first to make sure they contain the correct items. Otherwise, electrolytes are available in capsule form at your local pharmacy.
  2. Made in the Shade: It may not seem like much, but running on something like the tree-lined Delaware River Canal Trail on a sunny day can be less taxing than pounding the turf on a soccer field.
  3. Run early, run late: a lot of people do this all year round because of work, school, etc. anyway, so it’s not that big of a deal. But going out at dawn or sunset usually means cooler temperatures and less sun guaranteed.
  4. Build gradually: Much has been written about heat acclimatization and all of this is probably true. No need to do two hours on this first scorcher. Start with a few miles for the first few days and build tolerance.
  5. Light Colors: Remember that light / white fabric tends to reflect heat from the sun while dark / black absorbs.
  6. Sunscreen / Lip Balm / Hat: Back then, it seemed like four, eight, or 15 sunscreen was enough. But now, with runners increasing their mileage, a lot of people go up to 30, 50 or more. If you plan to stay longer than an hour, take a small tube of sunscreen in your pocket and apply a second coat. A beanie, pre-soaked in ice water, can keep you from becoming a “hot head.”
  7. Reduce Workout Speed: Over the 90+ days, take the pace down a notch. You don’t need to do any trail work when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on your local oval.
  8. Hit the Shore: Yes, now that the pandemic is over and summer is upon us, break the old routine down the Jersey Shore, whether it’s Long Beach Island, Gateway National, Ocean City, Wildwood, or Cape May. Take off the shoes and run where the water slides until it stops on the sand. It will break your daily routine and refresh you at the same time.
  9. Watch Your Diet: Summer usually means cooked meals, extra snacks, and, uh, increased alcohol consumption. If your long-distance training plan calls for running in the heat, be sure to keep an eye out for sugar, carbs, and foam. This will give your body a decisive advantage when battling the elements.
  10. Cross-train: When the heat and humidity increase to make things really uncomfortable, it’s time to look for workout “alternatives”. Hop on the bike, jump in the pool, call your tennis partner, or even slip into the basement for an air-conditioned treadmill ride.
  11. The main thing to heat up the race: use all available resources to your advantage. Have fun and stay safe.

Race calendar


Doylestown 5K, 9:30 am, Bucks 5K Series, Doylestown. Contact www.doylestown5k.org

Wednesday June 2

Raptor Run 5K, 7 p.m., Honey Hollow, New Hope. Contact www.bcas.org

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About Tommy Dodd

Tommy Dodd

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