I just got back from a great trip in NYC over the Memorial Day Weekend. The weather was classic summer city weather; hot, hazy and humid. Still, I was able to get my traditional runs through Central Park in, and live to tell about it. It got me to thinking about how best to deal with the upcoming summer training season. Here are a few tips.
Please help me out and add to them in the comments!
1. EASE INTO IT!
If it's your first "hot" run of the year, cut down on your intensity/distance. Heat and humidity are draining, and it's important not to kill yourself the first time out. Treat the change in weather like you've been off for a week.
Go easy and build up your stamina.
As a sport medicine physician, I try to recommend taking in at least 500 ml (2 cups) of water about an hour prior to going out. If this isn't possible, drink frequently to thirst, out on the run. It's NOT necessary to go crazy doing this, as drinking EXCESSIVELY can cause its own problems (like exercise induced hyponatremia (CJSM, 2008). A good method to sort out how much fluid you are losing is to weigh yourself naked prior to, and just after running. A one pound loss would be about the equivalent of 16 ounces of fluids (2 cups).
Despite what Gatorade/Powerade/whoever advertises, water is always the best choice for your fluid, UNLESS you are going out for longer than an hour, at High Intensity. If you are going longer, then adding 4-6% glucose, and a little bit of salt is worthwhile.
3. HIGH TECH CLOTHING
I'm a big fan of high tech stuff in general, and in this case, technology in clothing is important. Synthetic clothing, like Coolmax or similar, wicks sweat away much better than cotton, which tends to just retain the moisture.
Lighter colored clothing reflects most of the heat, and using a cap will keep some of the rays off your face.
4. TIME OF DAY
Pretty obvious, but getting out early in the morning, before the sun really heats things up is the best choice. It also tends to be best for lower humidity, smog, pollution, traffic and allergens. If the morning doesn't work, then the next best choice is during evening hours, after the sun has gone down.
Don't forget, even though it may seem fairly light out, have reflective gear somewhere on your body. Drivers can be pretty distracted (what with phones, texting, etc!)
5. IT'S THE HUMIDITY, NOT THE HEAT!!
Pay really close attention to the HUMIDEX reading, not just the temperature. When looking at weather reports, look at the Humidex reading, NOT the temperature. The humidex reading gives a "what it feels like" reading, by combining the straight temperature with the humidity reading. If this number gets too high for comfort, pack it in, and work out indoors that day!
Again, I appreciate all the great commentary, and would love you to add to the list! Cheers, and enjoy the heat!