Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hot, Hot, Hot! Great tips for running and training in the St. Louis August Heat from Dr. Larkin

Hot, Hot, Hot.

My goodness it's hot in St. Louis in August!  We got away with a little bit of a cooler summer with all this rain and milder temperatures, but this weekend's run was what I like to call a "Character Building Exercise."

I am now training for my third marathon.  For each of them, I have trained with the Fleet Feet Training team.  It's a nice setup, as they are able to customize your training schedule based on your experience and goals.  My training encompasses a few weekday runs on my own, then a group long run on Saturday mornings.  These will range from 11 to 21 miles during training.  

This past weekend, to remind you, was pretty darn warm.  And humid.  Swampy, even.  But, 15 miles lie ahead of us, so we set out from the St. Peters City Center heading northeast.  And by 5 miles in, I looked as though I had jumped into a swimming pool along the way.  Much of the course was in full sun, and by 8 AM, it was like running in a greenhouse.  Except without the pleasant floral aroma.  Not even close to pleasant floral aromas.

So a few notes for running in the heat.  (Yeah, a teaching moment!)  

Look for these symptoms:

·         Cramps
·         Chills
·         Dark urine
·         Dizziness
·         Dry mouth
·         Weakness
·         Thirst
·         Headaches
·         Nausea and vomiting
·         Confusion

To prevent heat illness, stay hydrated before, during and after exercise.  Light, loose clothing should be worn and skin should be exposed as much as possible.  Train appropriately to be ready for the heat, usually starting with short, low intensity workouts that may gradually increase over 7-14 days.  This allows the body to get used to the conditions safely. Consider altering your workouts when heat and humidity are high

Hydration is the most important way to prevent heat illness.  Drink at least 16 ounces of water one hour prior to exercise.  During exercise, continue to drink regularly, about 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes.   If a run lasts longer than one hour, a drink containing carbohydrates and electrolytes should be used.  Most sports drinks will do the trick.  Otherwise, plain water is fine.

If you see any signs of heat illness in you or your running partners, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency.  Do not hesitate to call for an ambulance early on if somebody seems to be in trouble.  While you are waiting, get him or her to a shaded area.  Placing ice bags or cold towels around the neck, armpits, and groin will help.  Provide cool beverages if possible.  Act quickly, as these interventions may save someone’s life.

Hopefully, we won’t have many more runs like last weekend.  But if you do happen to see sweaty footprints on the pavement, it’s probably me.   (That’s right, I sweat through my shoes.  It was hot!)

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