Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Staying Cool While Running In The Heat

Don’t be surprised if you feel a little extra sluggish when temperatures soar. When it’s hot outside, the brain tells the muscles to relax in order to keep the body’s core temperature low, and the process of sweating to stay cool diverts blood away from the muscles. Add allergies, dehydration, and longer daylight hours to the equation, and it’s tempting to take a vacation from training until cooler temperatures prevail. But your performance doesn’t have to suffer just because the mercury’s on the rise. Here are Runner’s World’s best tips for beating the heat.
Run before the sun. Head out before sunrise; it’s the coolest time of day. Your body’s core temperature is at its lowest right after you wake up, which means it takes longer for your body to overheat. If you can’t run in the morning, work out as late in the day as possible. Although the sun is highest in the sky at noon, the earth’s surface heat peaks between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. For a cool long-run adventure, get some friends together and do your long run after dark.
Check the heat index before you go out. It’s not just the heat; the humidity will take a toll, too. Moist air slows down your body’s ability to cool itself through sweat. The heat index combines temperature with relative humidity to determine the apparent temperature—how hot it actually feels—and the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory when that hits 105° F. Be sure to check the temps and the heat index before you go.
Wear the right gear. Go for light-colored, loose-fitting technical clothing and a visor. Unlike cotton, technical fabrics wick away sweat and dry quickly, meaning you won’t feel weighed down by your sweat-soaked T-shirt. Light-colored clothing reflects heat, and a loose fit lets air circulate. Hats trap heat; visors will keep your head cooler while still shading your face from the sun. Wear apparel with a UPF-rating (ultraviolet protection fabric), which means it shields skin from UVB and UVA rays. For tips on what to wear in any weather, check out our “What Should I Wear?” tool here.