With the Right Precautions,
Running in Heat and Humidity by
Mark Higginbotham - The Commercial Appeal Memphis, TN
Can Boost Fitness
To become a fit runner, it takes training
three to five days per week year round for two years.
Don't let the weather get in the way.
Training on treadmills and cardio machines
will help maintain fitness when the weather is bad, but you can't hibernate
every winter or remain indoors on the hottest days of summer.
Staying in motion week after week through
all kinds of weather is essential.
It takes about two weeks of training in
80-degree heat to give your body enough time to adapt. During this time, you
must really slow down. When 90-degree temperatures arrive during the "dog days
of summer," it will take another two weeks to adapt to the extra 10
If you make up your mind to train toward a
specific goal, the circumstances of daily weather will hardly ever deter
I watch autumn leaves fall while I remain in
motion. Winter is approaching when the grass dusted with early-morning frost
crunches beneath my feet. My favorite time of year is spring, when leaves
unfurl and flowers are all around my running path.
The two best training environments in which
to maximize aerobic fitness are training at high altitudes or working out in
the heat and humidity. Why not use hot, humid conditions to your advantage?
Build a base of aerobic conditioning by
running or walking slower for longer periods. It doesn't take much intensity
(pace) to get your heart rate up when it is hot.
Steve Born, author of The Endurance
Athlete's Guide to Success, says that athletes acclimated to heat "can
reduce electrolyte (sodium and other minerals) and fluid loss (through
sweating) up to 50 percent."
Remain well-hydrated. Get into the habit of
sipping water all day long. Carry and consume water or a sports drink during
every run or walk. Taking in too little fluid may result in heat sickness and
painful cramps. Excessively hydrating could lead to hyponatremia (low blood
sodium), which has killed several young and otherwise healthy marathoners
How much is enough? Most research recommends
that the average endurance athlete should take in 16 - 24 fluid ounces per hour
Older runners and those possessing a higher
percentage of body fat are more susceptible to heat stress.
Leg cramps, dizziness, increased heart rate,
headache, and nausea are the initial symptoms of heat exhaustion, which could
lead to (possibly fatal) heat stroke. Anyone experiencing these indicators
should stop exercising immediately, get to a cool place, and continue to
hydrate slowly. If you cannot keep fluids down, go to the emergency room.