This year’s El Nino event has brought record heat and humidity across the nation making for some miserable outdoor conditions this summer. Here in Kauai, the last few months have been so steamy I can barely walk down the hallway without breaking a sweat. My long run last weekend had me so water-logged with my own sweat I had to take a break mid-run and wring out my clothes (gross, I know). And this was at 6:00 a.m.
Running in extreme weather conditions can be uncomfortable at best and downright dangerous at worst. According to this Heat Index from the NOAA National Weather Service, 86 degrees with 71% humidity (the predicted conditions for The Kauai Marathon this Sunday) means race-day temperature will feel more like 95 degrees. When humidity is a factor, the higher the moisture content in the air the hotter it feels. Swell.
If you’re racing this weekend or just going out for a leisurely run, here are some tips to help you endure the sweltering conditions:
DON’T EXPECT A PR
“The most important thing you can do when racing in high heat and humid weather conditions is to adjust your expectations,” says Michele Gonzales, marathoner, running coach and blogger at womensrunning.com and NYCRunningMama.com. “Starting a race too fast, especially longer distances like a marathon, can make the later miles really tough, but doing so in elevated temperatures can be detrimental to your finish.” Slow your pace and focus on running confident and finishing strong. Save the personal record for a cooler race.
ADJUST YOUR HYDRATION PLAN
George Chiampas, O.D, assistant professor in emergency and sports medicine at Northwestern Medicine and medical director of the Chicago Marathon says, “Be smart about your individualized hydration plan. Humidity is tough.” Come into the race fully hydrated by adding electrolytes and eliminating alcohol a day or two before and staying on top of hydration throughout the race. “You will be sweating more than usual,” Gonzales adds, “Double what you normally drink at water stations, or even stop and walk through them to ensure that you are getting enough fluids.”
DON’T FORGET SUNBLOCK
Worrying about pace and hydration can be all-consuming on race morning, but don’t forget your SPF. Protect your skin with a non-irritating physical sunblock like Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Lotion SPF 60, with Titanium Dioxide 4.9 % and Zinc Oxide 4.7%.
WEAR COOLING GEAR
Opt for your lightest, moisture-wicking fabric for humid weather. The body’s ability to cool itself in heat and humidity is challenged as moisture in the air keeps sweat on the skin’s surface from evaporating. Choose high-performance fabrics that pull moisture from the skin and allow for faster evaporation to keep cool.
WATCH FOR DANGER SIGNS
Signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headaches, tingly skin and confusion. Stop at the first warning signs of heat-related illness, move to a cooler location and seek medical attention immediately.
Don’t let the muggy weather keep you from enjoying the race you’ve worked so hard preparing for. Get out there and enjoy the race despite the conditions. If you’re in Kauai for The Kauai Marathon I’ll see you on the course!