Sunday, August 7, 2011

How to cool off during a summer run

I did a 16 mile run today.  It was hot out, mostly sunny, and humid.  I felt pretty good until I got to an area with little to no shade and started getting overheated.  I had plenty of fluids to drink, but it was still just humid and the sun was inescapable.  During the last half of the run, I needed to walk every once in a while and started searching for ways to cool down.

First, I looked up ahead on the bike path around mile 10 to see my friend Jair riding his bike toward me.  What luck!  He happened to be out for a ride enjoying the Sunday afternoon, too.  We both stopped and chatted for a minute, then I asked if either of the bottles in his cages had plain water in them.  Score!  Jair let me use some of his water, still cold in an insulated sports bottle, to wet my head.  It felt amazing!  I was reinvigorated...for about a quarter of a mile.

That cool down didn't last long, but I knew that a mile or so down the road was a gas station.  I hoped to go in and top off my own water/sports drink mixture with cold water and grab some ice.  The soda fountain machine did not have a water tap, but I grabbed a handful of ice anyway.  I rubbed a few pieces on my face and neck and dropped the rest down my shirt.  That kept me going for a little while longer.

Then, I knew that if I could make it another mile, I'd enter another bike path that was graciously shaded by trees for an entire mile and a half.  I was able to keep up a slow running pace in the shade without needing to walk any of that section.  Then, it was a matter of just finishing the last mile and half and I could collapse in front of my air conditioner or hop in a cold shower.

On hot days like this, I've found a few strategies that help me beat the heat.  I'm not always smart enough to employ them sufficiently, but some methods are:
  • Run in the morning or evening.  Avoid the hottest hours of the day.
  • Wear sunscreen to avoid burning.
  • Pre-hydrate for several hours before the run and carry sufficient liquids for the run itself.
  • In case you do run out of beverage, know where the sources of liquids and ice are on your route (gas stations, fast food restaurants, drinking fountains) and plan them in if necessary, or stash iced bottles of fluids along the route before you run.  You may want to carry a couple bucks in cash in case you have to buy something.  If all else fails, knock on the door of a friendly looking house and ask to borrow their hose. 
  • Soak your shirt or shorts in cool water before you leave the house.
  • Wear a handkerchief or other clothing that can hold an ice pack near, but not directly on your skin.
  • Have a buddy bike with you to carry extra supplies.
  • Run through a sprinkler.  It's just a fun as when we were kids!
What other methods have you used to avoid overheating on summer runs?

No comments:

Post a Comment