Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beating the Heat, My Plan

When I get my butt whooped by something, like the heat/humidity @ this past weekend's 5 miler in Central Park, I get back up and keep fighting, but smarter and with a plan for round #2.

First, I needed to understand WHY at the mile 2 marker my body suddenly had the life sucked out of it and cast into survival mode.

#1. I went out too hard! On a nice and cool or rainy day, that strategy is actually suggested for distances for 10K's and shorter. i.e. go out hard and hang on for dear life cuz its gonna be over with before you know it. I have done that and it worked and I have PR'ed. However! On hot and humid days, GOOD LUCK with that strategy! It obviously didn't work for me. (and I am longing for cooler days again)

#2. Where is your blood? This is related to #1. Your blood goes to the muscles when your activity increases to deliver oxygen to the muscles. That is why certain body functions start to decrease efficiency such as your stomach's digestion. The same is true for your skin. The blood goes to the skin so that it can cool to keep your body temp down. Unfortunately its either the blood is going to your skin to cool, or its going to stay in your muscles and then you will overheat. Which is it gonna do? Well, for me it went to my skin and that is why I suddenly sloooooowwwwwed down at mile 2 when my body was like, sorry, your core temp gets priority over 7:xx min miles. Your body knows whats best!

#3 Acclimation. Everything I have read suggests it takes your body 10-14 days to acclimate to hot temps. I spent two summers cycling in Southern France. The weather there is like Arizona, hot, but dry, with more emphasis on the HOT. By noon, you are inside cuz by then its 100 degrees most days. I cycled through the terrible summer of 2003 that killed a lot of people across Europe due to the extreme heat. Fortunately every village in Provence has a water fountain in the middle of town, so I was constantly filling up my water bottles and staying hydrated. I remember getting heat headaches and learned how to take my helmet off going up hill and strapping it onto my handlebars then dumping water over my head. Eventually I acclimated and heat was no longer an issue. I always had a bottle of water on me and stayed hydrated. (I only took my helmet off for long uphills, it was promptly put back on when resuming flats or downhills)

#4 Know the conditions. I have been frequently heading outside in cooler temps in the morning, but because the humidity is already off the charts, I am suffering before I know it. I came across this cool chart which explains how humidity makes heat worse.

So now my plan of attack for beating the heat for my next race, a 10K around Central Park on July 10th, will be the following:

#1 Staying hydrated. I am constantly guzzling water. Seems as if after every run or ride my pee is no longer clear. So I guzzle some more water after the ride until it goes clear again, then I monitor it. I also feel like I have a lot more energy when I am fully hydrated.

#2. How much liquid should you consume? I came across this cool formula and article for figuring out your approximate sweat rate and how much liquid you should drink during a workout to prevent dehydration. Here is an example from the article:

Weight Before

Weight After 138.25 lbs.
Weight Lost or Delta 0.25 lbs.

Convert to Ounces 4.00 ounces (Delta x 16)

Liquid Consumed 42.00 ounces

Total Loss During Run 46.00 ounces (Delta + Consumed)

Loss Per Mile 9.20 ounces (Total Loss/Miles Ran)

#3. Train like you are gonna race. This is a tough one because if your race doesn't go off till 9 AM, that might be a time where you are already at your desk @ work. That is the case for me, so my most convenient option is training early in the morning like normal. So how can I acclimate to the heat the best? Mid day runs. I am fortunate that my workplace has a locker room with a shower. Its probably a really stupid idea to go out running @ 1 PM on a hot summer's day, but that is the same time I will be out on the run @ Timberman in August. Gonna have to get used to it at some point! Fortunately there is sun-block, even more sunblock, a visor, and fuel belt with water bottles. I will also limit the run to 4 miles and will drink PLENTY of liquids. (trust me, I am not looking forward to this)\

#4 Heartrate and going slower. Have you ever used your heart rate as a limiter? If your run calls for a zone 2 or 3 effort, then use your heart rate to tell you to stay in that zone, even if it means your pace will be WAAAAAYYYYY slower than on a nice and cool day. Eventually you will acclimate and the pace will come back up while staying in the same zone. Just think about when the temps cool down! Its gonna be PR CITY!!!!

#5 Ramp up the pace. My pace strategy is going to be the complete opposite for the 10K. Go out easier, get the body used to the conditions, then save the best for last. I actually felt the best during the 1.5 mile cool down after my 5 mile race, when the humidty and heat was even worse. My body only needed 7.5 miles (2.5 mile warmup, 5 mile race) to get acclimated. BLAH!

So this is the plan. Still debating the midday run. If you have any "train in the heat" suggestions, I wanna hear em!


  1. GREAT info! Thanks for sharing it with us! It sounds like you have a good plan in place to ROCK your next race! :)

  2. I think your plan is a smart one. The heat is so demoralizing...makes you feel like an amateur. This is my first time trying to acclimate to running in the heat also and i'm hating it. For all of the marathons i have trained for, i would start my long run btw 4-4:30am depending on the distance that day. Unfortunately, with HIM's and anything longer, you know you are probably running when it is the hottest part of the day. Living in florida and training outside almost year round, has me constantly striving to stay well hydrated...not that easy! Good luck with the adaptation period.

  3. Alot of great info in this post. I was beat down by the heat this weekend, so I am ready to start training smarter in the heat as well!

  4. Thanks for the great info!

    I probably could have used it today. I did 6 miles in the fumidity and it knocked me on my butt. 4 hours later and I think I am finally getting over the heat sickness.

  5. good suggestions!
    for me, its more the humidity than the actual heat!
    i like ur formula on how to stay hydrated!
    thnx for the great post, jon.

  6. Good post. A lot to think about here. I love training in the heat and humidity because it always makes me feel strong on race days.

    I consume fluids, but I am also a strong believer of whatever nutrition works for you—do it! I love Hammer Endurolytes. Whenever I feel like heat and humidity are kicking my ass, I down those puppies and the fatigue quickly lessens. Maybe it is psychosomatic. They are probably filled with beeswax.

  7. You got it all figured out don't you:) I just love your enthusiasm and drive! I have no doubt that you will experience a PR City soon!

    Remember to drink lots of water and fluids. Listen to your body and be smart:) Take care little bro!

  8. So analytical, I love it. So today since it is going to be 90˚F and I heard them say it was 78% humidity, it will feel like close to 113˚F!!!!

    I had a run yesterday evening; intervals and hill work with Team In Training. It was tough and the humidity was kicking my butt. I was so happy when it started raining!!

    My stomach was totally messed up afterwards and then I got the chills and was freezing despite my apt. being so hot. I was under the covers at bedtime....today, totally fine. wonder if it had something to do with the heat. I have been training in the AM when it isn't that bad.

  9. DAMMMNIT anyways. I wrote you a big long email in response to your comment... and then went to save it as a draft and hit close instead. Awesome.

    Long story short... I'll do a post about hydration/sodium soon. But in the mean time, YES you want to stay hydrated but be CAREFUL for hyponatremia. Super careful. That can put you in the ER pretty quick... (she says as she looks at her IV scar)

  10. Feels like I am in college again!!


    Though it is interesting


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