Don’t let heat beat you
By Fred Deckert
Tallahassee is blessed with good running weather almost year round, but summer calls for some caution, especially during races. For most of us, putting the pedal to the metal is counterproductive when it gets hot. Your body, just like your car engine will not work well when overheated. To draw the analogy further, if you cheat on water you’re likely to have very similar results in both cases. Your car engine may very well give it up and leave you with an expensive repair bill. Your internal engine can have even worse results which money can’t fix. Fortunately it has a lot of flexibility, but the smart runner does not press his/her luck.
Gary Droze’s suggestion to plan training runs during the cooler hours is a good one, but races don’t give you that option. When you’re on the road during a hot race you have several options. First you need to back off your pace and forget about P.R’s or winning awards. It’s much better to wait for a better, cooler day to show your best effort. Secondly, keep your radiator topped off with water, which will help cool you and keep you healthy. Unfortunately your body will not warn you early enough that the pace is dangerous, internal temperature will tend to build up toward the later stages of your race and maintaining your early pace can be foolhardy.
For the really competitive types who insist on running hard regardless of the weather, do yourself a favor and at least do some training during the heat, BUT carrying or making sure plenty of water is available. This will at least keep you from the temptation of competition while showing you what heat will do to you. This kind of training should be done with a partner who can give a better assessment of your condition than you may be able to yourself. Most of all, your brain should be the guide to intelligent running and serious competition should wait till conditions are better. Remember, people have died pushing themselves during hot weather. Even such illustrious runners as Alberto Salazar found themselves in a hospital tent buried in ice to correct and stabilize a runaway body thermostat after a hard, hot race. Salazar was never able to regain his previous form, very likely due to this episode. If a runner of that stature was beaten by heat, why should you expect to fare better?