Jul 07, 2014 / Running

5 Things I Learned Running In The Heat

I was feeling pretty good after running the Peachtree Road Race 2 days ago and being pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was than I remembered. All my training for the marathon was paying off and the race I remembered exhausting me as a child felt like a nice relaxing jog.

So I guess I got a little cocky and thought my weekly long run would be a piece of cake. Twelve miles was on the schedule for today with only one day’s rest after running 6.2 on the 4th. Usually I try and knock out the long runs in the morning when it’s cool but I pride myself on enjoying the challenge of the summer heat in Georgia and the high was only 86.

I had drank plenty of water throughout the morning while helping out at church and decided to get the run knocked out mid afternoon. I was tired but just wanted to get this done.

About 3:00 I packed up a Chewy bar and a bottle of Gatorade and started at my favorite spot where I can run in multiple directions and circle back for refueling. The first three or four miles went by quick and I was ready to knock out the last two thirds of my race and get back to enjoying my weekend.

Even though I’ve run on much hotter days this was my longest run in these conditions and there was very little shade on the last half of my route. By the time I got to mile six and seven I was dreaming of ice water but knew I wouldn’t circle back to my starting point until after the nine mile mark. I also realized that during my runs I crave water more than Gatorade so I made a mental note for next time.

Nine miles in I knew I had a tough out and back ahead of me. No shade, along a busy road, with some rolling hills. It took everything in me not to stop as I blasted my music and just focused on getting to the point where I could turn around and run for home. I love making the turn and telling myself; “The pain is over as soon as you get back and the fastest way for it to be over is to keep running.”

I had about a 9:15-9:20 pace going until mile 11 which I clocked at 10:29 but once I made the turn for home I finished my last mile at 9:23.  I guess I hit a wall of sorts, which definitely feels like it’s insurmountable in the moment.

During the last two to three miles I felt the worst I’ve ever felt running. I was hot but not just a steamy Georgia sweaty kind of hot, I think I actually stopped sweating. My body just felt hot. My hat felt like it was trapping in all the heat.

Immediately when I finished my legs locked up and I couldn’t move. All I wanted was water and all I had to do was cross the street to a gas station but this felt like a monumental task. It took me about 10 minutes just to get there as I kept feeling like I was going to black out or get sick.

Once I got some water in me and hobbled to my car and drove home I thought I’d feel much better. After about 30 minutes laying on the floor I tried to shower and crash on the couch but then the nausea and headache set in and I was freezing! It only took about four hours of being bundled up on the couch until I finally was able to eat and drink without feeling sick.

After looking it up I probably suffered from heat exhaustion today. I always thought this was just a fancy name for being tired out from being in the sun but today I saw firsthand the effects it has on you and I learned some lessons that I hope will benefit me in future training.

5 Things I Learned Running In The Heat

  1. Don’t plan a long run for the heat of the day. This isn’t the time to be superman – respect the heat and be cautious at peak times of day.
  2. Bring water on the long runs. I know it’s important to drink more than water but always make sure water is available.
  3. If you’re hot and it’s not sweating it’s probably not a good sign to keep pushing through.
  4. Run the long runs with partner for safety, or make sure people know where you are and when you’ll be done. I was pretty close to needing some assistance and feel fortunate I learned the easy way.
  5. Find good sources of fuel during your run. My hat was covered in white salt from sweat after the run. With everything your body sweats out make sure you’re replenishing it as you go on the long runs.