A few weekends ago, I pushed myself too hard without listening to and re-hydrating my body and, for the second time in two years, I helped myself to some heat exhaustion. Not awesome. Not pretty. Learn from my mistakes, as they are many.
It’s easy to see sun glistening on the lake and take your long run later in the day than you should, but prepare, hydrate and listen to your body and you can avoid an unplanned rest week (lame).
Prepare for a run in heat and humidity:
- If you’re not peeing clear, you’re not hydrated enough (That’s not a direct quote, but my high school track coach used to say that), but seriously, watch the color and volume of your urine
- Get used to running in the heat for two weeks before a long run
- Plan your run around the time of the day – “Run when your shadow is taller than you are.”
- Watch the heat index, it’s the most related to heat exhaustion. Likelihood of getting heat exhaustion is closely related to the heat and humidity – calculate the heat index here
Maintain hydration while you run:
- Don’t wait to be thirsty to drink water, drink “4 to 8 ounces of water and/or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes.”
- Remember, when you sweat, you’re not just losing water. You’re losing sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium, make sure you’re replacing those minerals as you re-hydrate.
Recognize the signs of heat exhaustion:
I hate to quote WebMD because it makes me crazy (I always have mono if I’m really checking the symptoms), but its guide to heat exhaustion provides a great look at what you should watch for while you’re out on your long runs on hot days.
There are two types of heat exhaustion:
- “Water depletion. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.”
- “Salt depletion. Signs include nausea and vomiting, frequent muscle cramps, and dizziness.”
Stay safe out there, runners.