How to Handle the Heat on Race Day

Although the Mill Race Marathon is in late September, the heat and humidity of recent should have runners mentally preparing for a hot, sweaty race. Heat is a game changer and can become dangerous, so here are some things to make your race more enjoyable.


Some people swear by it and wear it all the time but studies suggest that sunscreens block the body's ability to produce vitamin D.  Most believe that moderate sun over a longer period of time is safer than strong, seasonal sun that can produce a burn.  Reduce the chances of sunburn by using sunscreen when you are in the sun for an extended amount of time such as during your long runs or on very sunny days.  Also, wear a visor to keep sunlight off your face and eyes.  

Choose the Right Fabrics

In the heat of summer, wearing the wrong type of clothing can just add to your misery. Wear the least amount of clothing you're comfortable with and try to keep it somewhat loose-fitting. Avoid cotton as it holds in moisture, fails to keep you cool, and causes chaffing. Stick with light, moisture-wicking fabrics that pull moisture away from your body and dry quickly. Don't forget to wear socks in these materials to prevent blisters.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (But Not Too Much)

Hydration is crucial during hot runs and you can easily dehydrate before you start feeling thirsty. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, cramps, fatigue, and heat stroke.  Fluid replacement is different for everyone, but as a starting point you should make sure you are well hydrated before your run. A rule of thumb is to drink about 16 oz. of water two hours before your run and then 8 oz. about 15 minutes before you begin.  Additionally, consume about 8 oz. for every 15 minutes of exercise and adjust as needed.  Sweat is composed of not only water, but sodium too, and hyponatremia is the result of consuming too much water, so an adequate blood-sodium balance is necessary. If you are sweating over a long period of time and only drinking water, you may throw off that balance. On particularly sweaty days, this problem can be prevented by switching water for sports drinks that contain sodium and potassium. Other options are coconut water or electrolyte replacement tablets like Nuun.

It's shaping up to be a warmer than usual race day, so be ready for a the heat and humidity and always utilize your best tool for staying safe on hot runs….common sense!

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