Saturday’s weather is forecast to be warmer and more humid than average. Ideal endurance running temperatures are in the mid-40s, and we are forecast to be 20+ degrees warmer than that on race day.
Running in high heat and humidity makes your body more prone to overheating. High humidity prevents your sweat from evaporating and the subsequent cooling effect on your body. Your body tries to cool off by sending more blood to your skin to increase sweating, sending it away from your muscles. This results in increased strain and fatigue earlier and at lower running intensity than you may be used to experiencing at lower temperatures.
Some things you can do before and during the race to avoid trouble:
Do not race if you are feeling ill. The flu and other viral infections are rampant in our community right now. Definitely do not run the race if you have a fever.
Set realistic goals for your pace, which may need to be adjusted depending on your level of exertion during the race.
Eat some extra salt in the days leading up to the race. Consider using an electrolyte gel to help replace what you lose during the race.
Invest in some anti-chaffing balm to prevent “hot spots,” chafing, and blisters. Wet clothing and humidity makes it much easier to develop these uncomfortable conditions.
Wear sweat-wicking fabrics and avoid cotton.
Be aware that it is possible to overhydrate during the race, leading to low sodium in the blood, or hyponatremia. This is a very serious condition. The amount of water each person needs varies by weather conditions, running pace, and body size, among other things. Drink when you feel thirsty, no more than 24 ounces per hour during the race as a general guideline.
Use some of the water at the water stations to wet your head, neck, and chest to help cool down if you feel overheated.
Some warning signs and reasons to seek medical attention during or after the race include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cool and clammy skin
- Multiple or recurrent muscle cramps
Remember, there is medical help along the course at each water station and at the finish line in the medical tent. Ask for help early, don’t wait!
Lisa Rentz MD
Mid-Atlantic Emergency Medical Associates
Director, Novant Health Event Medicine
Chair, Emergency Medicine Peer Review Committee NHGCM