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The Dangers of Running in Heat and How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke

Updated on October 14, 2014

Heat is a Problem

A new study from the University of Tel Aviv shows what many female runners already know: Heat is the most dangerous element facing runners in the summer months.

According to the Tel Aviv study, 10 runners experienced heat stroke for every one runner who had a heart problem.

The study tracked 137,000 runners who competed in two road races over 7 years.

During this time, two runners died from heat stroke. The message is clear: You need to have a plan for heat.

When to Worry

Heat is most dangerous to runners in warm climates and in the summer months, when temperatures outside are hot.

How Heat Affects the Body

Your body's primary defense against heat is to sweat it out. And while you may want to hit the road in summer and sweat more, this can be harmful.

Your body carries blood toward the skin to push out heat and sweat. At the same time, you need that blood to keep your heart pumping and fuel your workout. With less blood to the heart, your heart has to work harder. Your heart rate increases, your body feels more stress, and you start to tire.

On a trail run, this might not be so bad. On a road race or marathon, it can be brutal on your body. You keep going because you have to, but your body suffers. As you continue to sweat, there is even less blood available and things get worse.

What Can You Do About Heat

You're not about to give up your training just because it's hot out. So, how can you run safely in hot weather?

Stay safe and stay hydrated by using a special hands-free runners' water belt and water bottles.

When it's hot and humid out, you can't run with the same intensity as you would on a cool day. Slow down your pace. A slower speed is the number one way to run safe in hot weather.

If you have ever had heat problems while running, be cautious. You are more likely to suffer from heat stroke if you have a history of heat-related problems when running.

And don't run if you are recovering from a fever or a cold. During recovery, your body's natural ability to cool itself is impaired, and you are more likely to suffer heat problems while running.

Hydration is very important for running safely in hot weather.

It's important to hydrate before, during, and after a run. Combined with safe running tips, proper hydration will keep you safe in hot weather.

Drink at least 16 ounces of water before a run. On the run, drink 4-6 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Rehydrate after your run to restore your body's equilibrium.


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