Mid-Week Obvious Observation: Running, Heat & Hydration

As I alluded to last week, I spent the weekend touring Okanagan wine country.  I managed one and only one run the entire weekend, but it was just enough to remind me of the impact that heat and hydration–or H2–have on running. I’m not even running for distance or speed at this point but that pesky H2 still got in my way.

Generally speaking, I can sum up the relationship between heat, hydration and running as follows:

Heat
thumbs down

Hydration
thumbs up

Let me dive a bit deeper now that we’ve covered the basics, starting with what has to be my number one running nemesis: heat. Let me start by saying that I’m a ginger, which pretty much means I’m genetically pre-disposed to wilting in sunshine (note: this is probably not scientifically true, but no one is under the impression that I have any scientific street cred). What is scientifically true is that research proves that it takes up to 14 days to acclimate to heat, and that most runners can expect their pace to drop and feelings of fatigue to increase when running in the heat. Now, for me, heat is not my friend even when I’m sedentary, let alone when running. I was reminded Saturday morning that running in any temperature above 22 degrees is not only very unpleasant, but also significantly impacts my pace and general energy level. I felt like a lumbering oaf, and a sweaty one at that.

Now, let’s move on to hydration. It will surprise no one that proper hydration plays a critical role in a successful run. Important and obvious note: wine doth not count as hydration. Without proper hydration, a nasty chain of events occurs, ultimately resulting in less oxygen-rich blood hitting your muscles. The net impact is a slower pace. Again, I was not surprised by the fact that, after essentially having a steady flow of wine entering my body the entire day before, my Sunday run sucked. In fact, I was so dehydrated that I felt on the verge of nausea after what was likely a mere 6 or 7 kilometers.

Now, onto the fun part and double whammy of H2: the effects of hydration and heat are most definitely compounded. One or the other is bad enough, but when combined you can expect amplified effects of both conditions. Dehydration already keeps oxygen rich blood from reaching muscles, but then when it’s hot out your body will send even more blood to your skin as a cooling mechanism. You’ve probably already deduced that this means even less blood is reaching the muscles that are attempting to propel you forward on your run. Moral of the story (and the most obvious thing you will read all day): heat and dehydration and running do not mix.

On the plus side, however, the wine was delicious and actually experiencing some summer heat (aside from while running) felt divine.

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