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Running Under The Sun

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The temperature in L.A. is heating up. What does this mean? (Aside from little pools of sweat forming wherever I stand.) This means we need to be prepared and take precautions before, during, and after our runs.

Before we run we need to be sure that we’re hydrated. This doesn’t mean a glass of water five minutes before your run. Proper hydration means drinking fluids throughout the day. Water, juices, and low caffeine liquids are all appropriate substances. If you’re running in the morning you should start hydrating the night before and waking up an hour before your run to get in at least 3 glasses of water or sports drink. If you’re running for more than an hour or running in direct sunlight, carry a bottle of water or sports drink with you. Plan your running routes to allow for water stops. In Pasadena, the Pasadena Pacers stash water along their running routes during their Saturday long runs.

Hydration strategies should also include electrolytes. Because we tend to sweat more in hotter weather, we lose more essential electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate). The electrolytes we lose are the ones that stave off muscle cramping and muscle fatigue (Sodium loading aids fluid balance and reduces physiological strain of trained men exercising in the heat.). Electrolytes transport fluids from one cell to another. The salts within our cells helps to keep the muscles hydrated, regulates blood acidity levels, and ensures that the muscles and nerves are properly functioning. We need to include a slight increase of sodium and potassium in our diets because those electrolytes are most commonly lost in hot weather and during intense exercise through sweat. I say “slightly” because too much and the body purges the excess through urination and too much sodium may cause high blood pressure.

Another thing to consider is your choice of clothing. Light, loose-fitting, and  moisture wicking material is best. Light clothing means both in weight and color. The lightness is comfortable and doesn’t absorb heat. Tight fitting moisture wicking material wicks away your sweat efficiently (not a good thing) and doesn’t allow your skin to breathe. Remember, sweat helps to cool us down. Loose fitting material allows for some air to brush against our sweaty skin which cools us.

There’s been some debate whether hats aid in cooling. A study was done and found that wearing a moisture wicking hat aided in cooling (I remember reading an abstract). Also, cooling the neck area has been shown to delay heat caused fatigue. (Cooling the neck region during exercise in the heat.; Neck Cooling And Running Performance In The Heat: Single Versus Repeated Application.)

Often overlooked is skin protection. Make sure to apply at least an SPF 30 sunblock. (I love Bullfrog because it stays on after heavy sweating.) Choose a brand that works well with your skin and skin type. Skin cancer is very preventable, so take skin protection seriously! Did I mention “skin” enough times? Just goes to show how important it is.

Post run we should be hydrating, hydrating, and hydrating. Electrolyte based drinks are best (beer is OK, but in moderation. Too much and it can dehydrate you). Eat something that is mostly simple carbohydrates and some protein (4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein has been suggested by experts) to aid in your body’s initial recovery efforts.

(Sorry about the poor citation style. WordPress doesn’t allow footnotes and there’s no way I’m going APA on this bit.)

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