Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Runners: know thy enemy!

Today's run: 2.6 miles

Hoping to keep my cool
Like most runners, my performance degrades with a rise in temperature. Adding humidity makes it worse and it all makes sense scientifically. If your body needs to cool itself, it will deplete your body's fluid level through sweat. This leads to a loss in plasma volume and a reduction in oxygen to muscles because blood low is being pushed to the surface of the skin. Humidity prevents efficient evaporation of sweat that dissipates heat and helps regulate body temperature.

It seems like every running magazine I read has an article or two about running in the heat. They all say basically the same thing -- that proper hydration (including electrolyte balance) is key. They are also pretty clear that running in extreme heat can drive your body temperature up to dangerous levels. At that point it goes from bad to worse.

I'm thinking about this because I'm two weekends away from the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It's a great race that goes through the woods and around a lake. It's always held the third weekend in August and the two times I've run it conditions ranged from high heat and humidity to high heat, humidity and rain. Last year I drank 24 ounces of water after I finished and still felt depleted. It wasn't until my daughter brought over an electrolyte drink that I finally felt restored and balanced.

This morning's run did not feel humid (though it was) and I appreciated the temperatures that were still in the 70's. I had a decent run and by the time I came home I was drenched with sweat but I didn't feel overheated. I'm looking for a singlet to wear on race day. Despite the "wife-beater" look that I've always avoided, that may be a good tool for keeping my body temperature down. One thing I'm counting on is that Dirty Sock will fall on a hot and humid day.

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