The Heat is On! Fitness Tips/Advice

By Amy Thoma

Another late summer Sacramento heat wave is upon us. Even though I grew up in very hot Northern California, I’m still not used to working out outdoors when our daytime low is hotter than San Francisco’s high.

And after years of pounding the pavement outside in every kind of weather imaginable, I figured I’d share a little of what I learned.

Keep in mind I’m not a doctor, a nurse, a sports physiologist or any kind of expert, but I have learned a few things running and cycling in and around Sacramento (mostly the hard way).

To beat the heat start early! I don’t like waking up before the sun but when the 10-day forecast contains 8 days of 105 degrees or higher it’s worth it. The coldest time of day is the moment before the sun comes up. Plus, sunrises are God’s reward to the early risers and the valley’s poor air quality makes for some stunning views.

Once you’re running make sure you listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, faint, have a fuzzy tongue or stop sweating, it’s time to stop. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself through pain and putting yourself in danger. When it’s hot outside always err on the side of caution.

Fortunately there’s a lot you can do to prevent overheating. Carry water with you! You can get a hand-held water bottle or fluids belt (I think fluid belts are a little dorky so I go hand-held but when it’s 105 out no one is going to judge) at most sporting goods stores. Fleet Feet has a great selection and you can find what’s comfortable for you. If you’re a heavy sweater (guilty) you might want to consider an electrolyte replacement like Nuun or Gu Brew. They’re large tabs you pop in a water bottle that contain all the electrolytes of Gatorade without the high-fructose corn syrup or unnecessary sugar. Bonus tip? They’re fantastic for hangover prevention.

Make sure you wear moisture wicking clothes. Cotton is the enemy. It doesn’t breathe properly. A nice, moisture wicking top and pair of shorts will keep sweat off you and speed up your natural cooling mechanism.

Consider running somewhere shady. Sacramento is blessed with many, many amazing places to run. Try McKinley Park, Land Park or the American River Parkway (anything above mile 18 is a hike but very shady!).

Finally, the heat can suck the speed right out of you. Give yourself a break. Once you get above 80 degrees studies have shown an up to 25% decrease in performance. Happily, other studies show that running in the heat can give you a training boost similar to training at altitude.

Stay safe out there and keep cool! Drink lots of water and most importantly, have fun.

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