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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hot Weather Workouts

" Every successful person in life began by pursuing a passion, usually against all odds."- Robert Kiosaki

Summer is great, but hot temperatures can make getting in workouts and doing races a challenge.
High heat and humidity can be a health risk if not managed. I’ve done races where the temperature was 103F twice in Texas.
If you race and workout enough in the heat your body can acclimate to it.  I’ve done plenty of work outs in the heat. I think it is one reason I did so well at the Boston Marathon in 2012 when temperatures were around 90F. I had done so many workouts in heat and humidity my body was ready for race day conditions. It is important to know the signs you are under heat stress and how to manage to prevent it from happening and what to do it does happen.
First some of the warning signs of heat related stress.

Mild Heat Stress Symptoms include:
  • Excessive sweating
  • Painful muscle cramps
  • Painful red bumps on the skin
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
Treat Mild Heat Stress
  • Rest in a cool shaded area
  • Drink Water
  • Fan the skin
Moderate Heat Exhaustion Symptoms include:
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Pale or flushed skin
Treat Moderate Heat Exhaustion
  • Same as mild heat stress
  • Also place a cool compress on the head and neck, under arms.
Heat Stroke (this is a medical emergency) Symptoms Include:
  • Lack of sweating
  • Deep and rapid breathing
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Dry flushed skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of Consciousness
Treat Heat Stroke
  • Call for immediate medical attention
  • Do what you can to lower body temperature, move to a cool shaded area
  • Drink water
  • Fan the skin
  • Apply compresses around the body
  • Do not leave the person alone.
There are tips to avoid getting any of these heat related injuries

Workout Timing The time just after sunrise and just before sunset are the coolest times of the day. Cool can be a relative term, because when I visit my Texas relatives sometimes it is 90 F at midnight in the summer. Avoid the middle part of the day when temperatures are the hottest.

Workout planning As a triathlete I train in swimming, biking and running. Here in Wisconsin sometimes we only get one really hot day before it cools off. I can switch a running day to a swim workout until the weather cooperates. If I really have to run and I think it is too hot outside, I can do a treadmill or use the indoor track we have at the Petit Center. The Center is an Olympic Training facility for speed skaters and there is a 450 meter indoor track around the ice skating oval.

Workout Routes Pick a spot with some shade if running or biking. Running on blacktop roads in full sun can be really brutal. Try a trail or a road with some shade. We have lots of great bike paths and State Park Trails for running here in Wisconsin. Most have shade. A shaded route will be much cooler. On really hot days I head to the bike paths along Lake Michigan. Sometimes the route along the lake is so cool it feels like I am in front of an open refrigerator door. The Lake is so big it really has a large cooling effect.
Diet Stay well hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. When working out drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. I carry water with me when I bike and run and drink throughout the workout. Do not wait to get thirsty to start drinking.
Avoid caffeine because it dehydrates you. Check any medication you are taking to see if they increase your risk of heat stress.
Eat lightly, especially before a workout. Heavy, hot meals divert blood to your stomach to digest, making it harder for your body to stay cool.
Eat foods that are water intense like melon and berries during the day to keep you hydrated.
You do not need to consume extra salt since we all get enough salt in our diets.
I do use a sports drink for workouts longer than one hour. This can be helpful when it is hot because sports drinks designed for endurance athletes have electrolytes to replace what you lose through sweating. This can help prevent muscle cramping.

Dress appropriate for the workout or event. Check the heat and humidity before you leave. Take into consideration the temperature when you finish. Sometimes you have to dress in layers if there will be a big temperature swing.  Wear loose fitting light colored clothing if it is going to be hot.  Weather clothing designed to wick moisture.  There are lots of good high tech clothes you can wear in hot weather.   
Don't be afraid to go back home to adjust what you are wearing if it proves to be too hot.

Wear a hat when it is sunny or even a visor if it is really hot.  I remember running the Summerfest Half Marathon here in Milwaukee a few years ago.  It has held in June and predicted temperatures were going to be in the low 90's and humid. I remember seeing women in cotton capri's and lots of people in long sleeve cotton shirts.   That clothing is way too hot for a run at that time of year. Experiment in workouts for anything you plan to wear in a race.  If it is a long race like a half or full marathon, dressing in layers can help. Sometimes it is really cold at the start, but heats up as you get into the race.  Experienced raceres know to have a few throw away layers.  You will see lots of discarded layers of clothing in the first few miles of long races on a chilly morning.

General Tips Know your tolerance for heat. If you don’t take the heat well then do not push it by working out and racing when temperatures are extreme. Cut back on the intensity to cut the strain on your body. Stay and shape, well-conditioned muscles generate less heat and make you more heat tolerance.
With a little planning and a few precautions you can race and workout safely in hotter weather.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 123 members in 27 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

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