Hey RMA crew!
I’ve been talking with a number of different Running Mums this week about coping with running in this heat. It was mid-thirties here in Brisbane last week and it’s getting hotter. As humans (surprise) we are actually pretty good at adapting to the heat, allowing us to exercise in the middle of the day… important for our cavemen ancestors chasing the lesser adapted Sabre Tooth tigers for lunch!
Basically your body cools itself in two ways:
- By sweating.
- Your body diverts blood from the muscles to the skin, hence the red face. This one is fascinating because it creates a bit of a paradoxical battle between the muscles and the skin and muscles ALWAYS lose.
How does your body adapt?
The body is ’the bomb’ at adapting to heat. It does it better and quicker than coping with cold or even altitude. In just a couple of hot runs you will start to sweat earlier in your workout, you will sweat more and it will be less salty which is your body changing to conserve sodium (delicious). Within a week your blood volume will start increasing to enable blood flow to both muscles as well as skin. In fact Brett Ely, a heat researcher in Natick, Massachusetts found heat adaptation happens in as little as 8 to 14 days.
Are men or women tougher in the heat?
We know from ‘research’ that men are better sweaters. However women do fare well in hot runs. In truth it comes down to size.
Just after the Athens Olympics Tim Noaks, an exercise physiologist looked at two groups doing 8k time trials on a treadmill. The first group weighed 50kg or less and the second group weighed on average 59kg. At cool temperatures the athletes were statistically equal but when room temperatures were raised to 35 degrees the smaller runners were significantly quicker. The reason for this comes down to surface to mass ratios.
Basically most women are smaller than men and therefore have higher ratios making them more able to get blood to the skin to cool down. Same principals apply to lean guys and it’s no surprise… the Kenyan’s are smashing it on the world stage.
So how can you tackle the temp?
We put this question to Facebook last week and had many great answers. A personal favourite was ‘drinking wine at the end to rehydrate’ and another ‘eat more lettuce’. I feel like we have a lot of witty followers…
I was talking to Running Mum Shona Stephenson who won Blackall 100 this year, she has the rule that if it’s over 26 degrees you run in a sports top or your RMA singlets (no sleeves). Shona will always run in a cap and carries two 500ml bottles, one with electrolytes and one water to tip on herself. She counts 100 steps and uses a small amount of water on her cap to keep cool. 500 ml will get her through 10k. Some elites use a frozen neck tie but if you have long hair just keeping it wet can keep temps down. What you’re trying to do is keep cool so you won’t need to sweat as much and go into fluid deficit.
Drinking during your run
(Not wine). When you’re really pushing you can easily sweat more than a litre an hour! It’s important to replace fluids and electrolytes as much as you are able to and there’s heaps of good stuff out there. Shona will use a sports drink diluted at about 25%. Running through checkpoints she will even grab two frozen gastrolytes, one to eat and one in her running top to chew on later! Another one of our athletes Mick Thwaites who came third at Badwater (50 degrees plus!) will have a sip religiously every few minutes.
Post run you want to get in as much fluid as you can. Natural electrolytes like coconut or mineral water are great to replenish quickly. You’ll know when you’re rehydrated when you drink water and then quickly have to pee! Ready for tomorrows run!
Hope this helps RMA crew! Stay safe in the heat. Enjoy your Christmas runs… And don’t forget to keep tagging us in your sweaty Betty photos!
Body Leadership Australia
Brisbane – 07 3847 8040