Florida is known for it’s fantastic, warm summer weather. It’s always sunny, it’s practically never raining, and it’s hot. Well, truth is it does actually rain here (once a day in the summer for about 15 minutes) and it’s not always sunny…but yeah. It’s always really hot. Summer in Florida usually starts in March, and will go through October, sometimes as late as November before the temps start to cool. And it’s hot early in the morning, and late at night. And it’s humid. And it’s gross and sticky and just miserable.
And it doesn’t stop me from running outside, hitting the pavement. It just slows me down.
Kat and I have a Friday morning date. Every Friday, barring previous commitments or illness or a sick kid, we meet at the Channel 4 parking lot to run the bridges or the YMCA track to do speed work. This week it was bridges, and usually on these runs it’s her doing most of the talking while I huff and puff next to her trying to keep her faster pace. It was a crisp, cool 65 degrees and if you stood there and didn’t move…it was chilly. But when you start running in it, the humidity hits you and you are just dying.
We started talking about a few of the articles we had read recently about running. I found one on Facebook, that I can’t seem to find again, that talked about fueling your half marathon…which will be discussed later. She started to talk to me about one she read about how the temps change our running. “For every 7 degrees you gain a minute,” she said that she read. Stopping to think about it, it makes sense. You are pushing your body to do something that exerts energy, and to do that you build up heat. Top it off with 85 degree weather and a cloudless Florida sky? You can bet that your body temp will grow significantly higher than if it was say…65 with a 20% humidity.
Then, because I was more curious about the topic given my inability to control my body temp as it is, I found this article on Runner’s World in the women’s running section. Reading that the heat could kill you was not a surprise to me. I remember back in high school during my senior year Band Camp where we were told to drink lots of water and stay as cool as we could as we practiced on the black top of the driver’s ed range. Three kids were sent to the hospital due to heat stroke and about two dozen of us were in heat exhaustion for most of the week. Not exactly fun. (we did win a ton of championships with our half time show, though.)
This, however, scared the hell out of me:
Once your body temperature climbs to 104 degrees, you’re in the heatstroke danger zone. Continued hard running at this temperature can overwhelm your cardiovascular system. Hit 105 degrees for 30 minutes or more and your body may start to cook from the inside out. The hyperthermia can weaken the heart, cause the kidneys and the liver to shut down, and cause cell damage. Exertional heatstroke has arrived.
Um, I finished the 2011 Gate River run and was rushed to the medical tent with a body temp of 108, which is apparently Exertional Heatstroke which kicks in at 105. I was two degrees from being rushed to the emergency room. And that was in early March. Well, no wonder I was having such intense issues! Suddenly, 12 plus minute miles and walking during my summer runs doesn’t seem like such a horrible thing.
The article has some contradicting information from what Kat told me. According to RW, it takes 10 days to acclimatize to the weather, where Kat said the one she read told her 3 days but following the writer through her half marathon and watching how they monitored her made me realize that some of the problems I was having during my December half might have also been linked to heat distress as well. Headaches is a sign? I finished the Jacksonville Bank Half with a migraine so bad, I could barely see. Light-headed? Nauseous? Extremely fatigued? Scary.
If you run in serious heat, then I suggest checking out this article and doing the things it says. Some of them I’ve always done (weighing yourself before and after you run to monitor how much you are losing) and some I haven’t even thought of (eating a salty meal the night before a long run in the heat) but the information there is really eye opening and helpful. It’s food for thought that sounds like might save your life.
And take it from me – winning PR’s in this kind of heat is just not worth your health. Save it for the fall half/marathon season. At least, that’s what I’m doing.