Stay Cool

I don't do a whole lot of "how to" or informative blogs. I would much rather talk about my life, but my life right now is pretty boring. I am presently unemployed, so my days consist of watching the Today Show, Live With Regis and Kelly, and catching up on my DVR'd shows from the night before. In between shows, I pack some, but we don't have air conditioning and its been around 100F, so I can't do a lot before I feel like I'm going to die.

During one of my "I'm going to die" moments, I figured I would write an informative blog about staying cool in this hot hot weather. Pretty much everyone east of the Rocky Mountains is dying from this heat right now, so I figured we could learn a little from it. I'm going to focus more on how to stay cool while working out in the heat, but some of the advice is good for just dealing with the heat in general.

1. STAY HYDRATED!! I feel like this is the most important so I'm putting it first. If there is only one point that you take away from this list of points, it is this one. About 2 to 3 hours prior to exercise, you should consume 500 to 600mL (17 to 20oz) of water or sports drinks. That's approximately one bottle of water or Gatorade. Again, 10 to 20 minutes before exercise, you should drink an additional 200 to 300mL (7 to 10oz) of water or sports drink. So that's half of a bottle of water or Gatorade. You should also take note of your weight prior to and after exercising. If you hydrated properly, you should not lose more than 2% of your body weight. To help prevent dehydration, you should drink around 200 to 300mL (7 to 10oz) every 10 to 20 minutes. That's yet another half bottle of the beverage of your choice. If you are not used to working out in hot conditions, you should opt to hydrate with a beverage that contains electrolytes for  the first week of hot weather exercising. After that, your normal electrolyte intake should suffice unless you are working out for more than four hours. Once you have completed your workout, make sure to rehydrate with a beverage that contains carbs and electrolytes to help replenish what you lost. The rule of thumb is to drink 16oz. of fluid for every pound lost. Remember, prevention is key!

2. Avoid the heat. If you have the option of working out somewhere cooler, such as a local gym, do that instead. Also, work out early in the morning or later at night. I don't know about you guys, but its still blisteringly hot well after dark, so I prefer early mornings. As a female usually working out by myself, I feel more safe working out in the morning than at 10PM. Or if you are a triathlete like me, and you need to get in a lunch time work out, do something cool like an open water swim. Save the run for later when its not so hot. If you must must must do a lunch time run, then read on...

3. Acclimate. If you have to work out in the heat are not used to working out in it, start off with short, low intensity workouts and gradually build up over two weeks.

4. Wear light clothing. To avoid attracting extra heat from the sun, wear light colored clothing. Also, wear light, moisture-wicking clothing as well. Sweating is your body's way of cooling itself down. If you are wearing heavy cotton, the clothes will just weigh you down and not allow for the sweat to evaporate.
Chris Lieto rocking (almost) all white triathlon garb in Kona
5. Ice. This isn't as easy to do with regular training runs, but I love doing this at races. Take ice provided at aid stations and put it in your sports bra, shirt, shorts, underwear, etc. Wherever I can make it stay, I put it there. The best places to put it are over superficial large arteries. These arteries are taking large amounts of blood to the rest of your body, so if you can cool the blood down before it gets there, it will help to keep your body cool. Specifically, you should put the ice over your femoral artery, brachial artery, and carotid artery. If I have enough ice, I'll even put some over my vertebral artery. Here's how to find these particular arteries (note: they are all located on both sides of the body):

Femoral - Runs along groin region
Of course, you wouldn't have an aneurysm
Brachial artery - stick the ice in your armpit (I hope this doesn't require a picture to locate)

Carotid artery - Feel the side of your neck and you should feel a strong pulse. That is your carotid artery. Stick the ice there.

Vertebral Artery - They arteries run along the spine in the neck.
If nothing else, it feels good to put ice on the back of your neck

5. Rest. Take more rest breaks during your work out, particularly to make sure you are sufficiently hydrating. If you are doing two workouts a day, make sure to take it easy between each workout, eat a proper and nutritious meal, and (there's that word again) hydrate! And make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. You may be used to running 3 miles at 10min/mile pace, but your body works harder to get you there in the heat. As the heat and humidity increase, your heart rate also increases in an attempt to keep the body cool. Give yourself a well deserved rest.

Resources: National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes
National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Exertional Heat Illnesses


Ali said...

Very educational post! Overheating isn't a big problem over here unless you're doing a marathon or happen to find yourself outside on one of the three hot days a year, but it's informative nonetheless :)

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