One thing that I really love about running is that I am allowed to get utterly obsessive about it. I read everything I come across. I subscribe to magazines and newsletters and generally Google anything all the time ever.
Right now, we’re in the middle of the very much hottest part of the Florida summer. And running in heat is tough. I’m hit by a wall of humidity and a balmy 82ish degrees when I open the door at 5:15 am, and by time the sun is out at 7 am, we’re pushing 85. Our long runs get really uncomfortable.
So of course, I like to read about running in the heat, and I’ll share some awesome articles with you through these reviews – because Ginger is sick of me IMing her in the middle of her work day or blabbering on and on while we pound the pavement.
- What I liked: I love learning about the physiological science behind how my body works the way it does, and this article doesn’t disappoint.
- Favorite quote: ”For every 10-degree increase in air temperature above 55 degrees, there’s a 1.5 percent to 3 percent increase in average finishing time for a marathon. . . This slow-down occurs because heat impacts runners at a physiological level through various means, including dehydration, increased heart rate and reduced blood flow (and subsequently oxygen) to the muscles used for running.”
- What I learned: Humidity makes heat even tougher, because the evaporation of sweat that cools your body isn’t happening. It’s not the heat, or the humidity: it’s the dew point that makes running tough. The closer the dew point is to the actual temperature, the more saturated the air is and the less perspiration can evaporate and help the body cool itself, resulting in extra stress on the heart and lungs as the body attempts unsuccessfully to cool itself. Lucky for we Florida runners, the dew point is almost always in the high 70′s in the summer. Here’s the chart for expected level of exertion at specific dew points:
- What I liked: Again, this article speaks to the science of the effects of mid-run hydration on your performance. I’d like to see a few more studies, but it’s a start.
- Favorite quote: “So while drinking while running in the heat will not cool you down, it will speed you up. Specifically, drinking during hot-weather runs will keep your blood volume at close to normal levels, which in turn keeps your sweat rate high. And since oxygen is delivered to the muscles through the blood, maintaining your blood volume through drinking also enables your heart to deliver more oxygen per contraction, so you perform better than you can if you allow your body to become too dehydrated.”
- What I learned: Drinking while running in the heat won’t make you feel cooler or change your body’s core temperature, but it will help your body regulate itself more effectively. Drink at a rate that seems normal and appropriate – too much water can give you GI issues; too little negates the effects. The most effective way to prevent your body from overheating is to run slower – which you’ll probably be doing anyway.
I don’t know if I’m looking for some sort of panacea, but after reading these and many other articles, I know I’m not going to find it. I just have to slog through the heat, as early as I can. Stay hydrated and make sure my clothing is as comfortable as possible. Deal with the chafing and blisters and hope that I make it cheerfully through the next 4-6 weeks of hell.
I am, however, buying one of these before our 12 miles on Saturday. Last week’s hunt for water was just too much to handle. These two 10-oz bottles should get me through the first 8 miles, up to our usual cold water fountain stop.