Prepare yourself to run in hot weather conditions

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run in hot weather

A lot of runners preparing for an endurance event such as a half marathon or a marathon are not able to get the best out of their training due to hot weather conditions. A few slow down and take a break, but most challenge themselves believing that it is all in the brain. But in actuality, it is not. If one is not able to get the best out of training or a good time in a run, it is because of hot weather conditions. You are not doing enough to keep your core temperature low. Hence, the body in a desperate attempt slows you down to control core temperature. Let us understand it better.

How core temperature matters

We all have been told that we must warm-up and stretch before a run. This is very much important to avoid injury. However, when we do so, we increase our core temperature and heart rate. Now when we start our run, we are at a core temperature that is fit for our muscle fibers, our blood supply, and our heart function. Once during the run for any reason, if our core temperature rises, the body takes all measures to cool it down. Sweat to cool the outer layer of skin and thirst are the most immediate ones. Once the temperature crosses the setpoint as kept by the hypothalamus, the body slows down the skeletomuscular functions. This leads to your slowing down. We also get tired quickly and maybe need to stop. When we run in hot weather conditions we can do a few things to get the best out of our training.

Before the run

No one wants to start a run while already sweating. But if temperatures are hot enough, things will be sweaty from the word go. If you are cooler at the start, your performance will be better. Your heart rate will be lower and your body will be able to send more blood to the performing muscle rather than skin to cool it down. At the same time, it is important to ensure that muscles are warmed up and stretched before the run. The balance thus is critical. The best way is to warm up and stretch the muscles but keep the skin cool besides maintaining a lower core temperature. You can do this by using ice or water over the skin before the run or at the time of doing warmup. Remember evaporation causes a cooling effect. So as water evaporates, the skin will cool down. There are even ice jackets available in the market to keep yourself cool before the run although that will be an extreme measure and more so for professional runners. One can also consume an ice-cold drink as that will cool things from inside. However, people who are not comfortable drinking such a thing may use external measures only.

During the run

We all know the importance of staying hydrated during a run. The need is more during hot weather as you are likely to sweat more. With sweat, you will also lose salt and few micronutrients. Hence a balancing electrolyte is vital. We must ensure that the drink we consume is at a lower temperature. Once it reaches our stomach, it brings down our core temperature from inside. While training, taking a break in a shade or inside your car with AC on is also a good idea. If you do not want to stop, remember to pour some cold water on your skin to keep it cool. Wearing a cap that can hold some cold water or ice is another option. This way the water trickles down your neck slowly keeping skin cool for a longer duration.

After the race

Now here we want to slowly cool from inside and speed up from outside. This means I want to bring my core temperature down slowly to reduce muscle soreness but cool my skin faster. The extreme option can be to immerse yourself in cold water. That may not be always possible. So you can carry cool packs and apply them. Important areas are the soles of feet, palms, and head. Sitting in AC or at least under a fan is also a good option. In case you are feeling nauseous, spacey, headache, or extremely tired, donโ€™t jump to any conclusion. Give your body time to cool down. Once you are off from the training or run and are in a cool place, the core temperature will be close to your set point in the next 10 to 15 minutes.

Take home message

Do not let temperature ruin your training and goals. On the contrary, plan your training and make temperature regulation an important part of it. Despite everything written, you must listen to your body. At any point, if you think your body is giving you a signal to stop, do not wait for a second longer. Just do it and if possible take measures as written above. If things do not improve in the next 10 to 15 minutes, you must immediately report to the nearest medical center.

Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness Coach H2F Care

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