Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coco Loco

My friend Kristin and I had the bright idea to lay in the park yesterday reading magazines, but it was so unbearably hot that after an hour of lying still in the shade and sipping water, we had to head for air conditioning. Later on that evening, I heard that it reached 103 degrees in Central Park, which is some sort of record apparently.

While my lazy days reading in the park might be thwarted by the heat, marathon training must go on. I cannot relegate myself to getting all runs done on the treadmill either, so I must brave this heat. Here are hot weather training tips from my coaches so that work-outs leave us healthy and happy.

Drink up. The general rule of thumb is 4 to 6 ounces (think 4-6 big sips) of fluid every 20 minutes during runs. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), I include a sports drink (like Gatorade) or an energy gel to replace lost electrolytes. I personally prefer PowerBar Gels in tangerine or strawberry banana or chocolate with cold water. I’m sure you won’t forget to drink afterwards, but make sure to drink one to two bottles worth of water. The hotter it is the more I drink.

Dress lightly. I know it will be challenging for my New York friends to find something that isn’t black, but light-colored clothing reflects the sunlight instead of absorbing it like a dark color. I traded in my black spandex pants for light running shorts about a month ago and I feel so much cooler on my runs.

Wear fake clothing. Yes, this means I’m giving you a bona fide excuse to go and stock up on the coolest athletic gear around. No more t-shirts and old sweats. Synthetic fabrics (like CoolMax and Dri-Fit) wick moisture away from the skin and dry quickly, but cotton just absorbs the sweat and stays wet, making me feel heavy and potentially causing chafing. One of the best discoveries I made is running socks. They protect my feet from blisters. The only piece of clothing that I regularly run in which isn’t technical gear are ”wife-beaters.”

Use sunscreen. Wear sunscreen before every run. I use the spray sunblocks on my body and a separate one for my face. I like the Nuetrogena Sport Face SPF 70+ and anything labeled sweatproof that comes in a spray for my body. Otherwise, that sunblock will melt right off. I make sure to cover my entire upper body (because straps move and shirts fly up) and behind my ears.

Protect your eyes. Wear a hat or sunglasses, because squinting gives me a headache. Plus the eyes, just like the skin, can be damaged by excessive sun exposure. I run with $5 sunglasses I bought off the street.

Know the signs of dehydration and heat-sickness. If you feel faint, dizzy, disoriented, have stopped sweating, or your skin is cool and clammy, slow down or stop running. If symptoms continue, sit or lie down in the shade and seek help.

As long as I stay safe, I know that running through the heat and humidity is worthwhile, because when fall finally turns the corner and the cool air starts blowing, I will fly around the park. And there’s nothing quite like that feeling.

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