Hot yoga, also called Bikram yoga, is trendy and last week everyone in Minnesota did ‘hot living’ while temperatures passed 100 for nearly a week. I like to refer to running in Djibouti as ‘hot running.’
In hot yoga, the temperature of the room is kept at 105 degrees F (40.6 C) with a humidity of 40%. This is hot. This is also Djibouti, a lot more of the year than I would like. People say, “Oh, you can run in this Minnesota heat, you’re used to it.” My response, “After 100 degrees, no one gets used to it.”
Typically the first week of extreme heat and/or humidity brings on diarrhea post-run, my first clue the seasons are changing. After that, my body does adjust to some extent and I’m able to run on. But I can’t run foolishly, running in such high temperatures requires advance preparation. Failing to plan for the heat has worse consequences than a 100-yard dash to the nearest toilet/desert bush/hotel restroom.
So how does one run in the heat? Here are my 10 non-scientific tips:
1. Expect to run slower. Expect it to feel harder. I still wear my Timex Ironman but mostly out of curiosity. There will be no PR’s in the summer.
2. Take walk breaks and feel no shame. I do workouts that include walk breaks, like short sprints. I walk when I feel like walking.
3. Know your body and listen to it. Sometimes I stay home and do P90X or INSANITY or Pilates. Sometimes I cut a run short. Sometimes it takes my body an extra day or two to feel recovered. That’s fine.
4. Run in the morning or the evening. I never run, even in the ‘cool’ season after 7:00 a.m. The sun rises in Djibouti by 6 every morning so often I am out the door by 5:30 a.m.
5. Hydrate. This means before you run, while you run, and after you run. I don’t have the option of drinking fountains so I either carry everything or bring coins to buy water bottles. I usually freeze my Camelbak or plastic water bottle the night before and by the time I’m a mile in, there’s enough water to drink.
6. Wear light clothing. I can’t wear shorts or tank tops, but if you can, wear less. And make sure it is moisture wicking. Although in Djibouti, this doesn’t mean much because by mile 2-3, my clothes are 100% soaked and slap against my skin and spray droplets of water to the ground in steady streams, no exaggeration. Which leads to number 7…
7. Wear tight clothing. I do wear slightly fitted clothes, though not spandex leggings unless my shirt is long enough to cover my butt. But loose clothes, when they get this soaked, tend to cause rashes and annoying slurping sounds.
8. Know how much you sweat. And plan accordingly. Weigh yourself naked before you run and again after you run. Figure in how much you drank and figure out how much you sweat. Losing more than 3 percent of your weight seriously affects performance. For me, this means after I lose 3.75 pounds or so, I’m going to suffer. I easily lose that much on a Djibouti run. So I know my pace and legs will suffer and I know I need to get a lot of liquid.
9. Get enough sodium. I love popcorn and pretzels so that’s an easy one for me. My feet cramp on long, sweaty runs because I am a wild sweater and a salty sweater, I can see salt lines on my face and clothes before some of my running partners even soak through. Gatorade gives me worse runs than the temperature so I get sodium elsewhere. Its important to keep your body in balance.
10. Love it. You’re crazy. You’re beet red and slimy and dust has turned into salted mud on your face (think of it as a free spa day). Your clothes could be wrung out. But you are strong, you’re extreme, you’re prepared, you love running.
How do you exercise in the heat?