Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
Running in Houston’s heat presents a set of challenges that your running friends in milder climates simply don’t have to deal with. The heat, humidity, and intense sun all add up to create some brutal conditions! If you’ll be running outside in Houston’s heat this summer, be sure to check out these tips for staying healthy and making the most of your training.
“Pre-Cooling,” Body Temperature & Heat Removal
An article on Runner’s Connect tells the story of a famous 1999 study by José González-Alonso and his coworkers at the August Krogh Institute in Denmark. In this study, researchers tested cyclists in temperature-controlled environments as they biked to the point of exhaustion.
The cyclists were divided into three groups. The first group started out with a pre-cooled body temperature of 96 ºF. The second group began at 98 ºF (normal body temperature). And the third group began with an internal temperature of 100 ºF (pre-heated).
The cyclists then rode until they were exhausted. The results aren’t all too surprising. The pre-cooled cyclists did the best, followed by the 98 ºF group, while the pre-heated cyclists performed the worst. All cyclists–no matter the starting temperature–began to reach exhaustion when their internal body temperatures reached about 104 ºF.
Similar studies were later performed, during which cyclists wore jackets that either increased or decreased the rate of body heat removal by pumping hot or cold water continuously through the jacket.
Should You Pre-Cool Before a Run?
Some runners in Houston may find pre-cooling to be helpful for an endurance boost. You can purchase a cooling vest to achieve this. Or, if you’re looking for a free/cheap alternative, simply apply some frozen towels or washcloths to your body before a run. Eating an ice pop or some frozen sports drink immediately before your run can also help lower your core temperature slightly.
Be careful though, and don’t overdo it. We are not suggesting you sit in an ice bath for thirty minutes! Anything more extreme than what has been discussed in this blog post should be discussed in person with your trainer or Houston sports medicine doctor.
Other Running Tips for Houston’s Hot Weather
- Stay hydrated and replace electrolytes lost through sweating.
- If you sweat excessively, ask your physician about using nutritional supplements to help your body retain more water during your run.
- Modify your warm-up routine so that it features short, dynamic activities.
Discuss Heat Safety With a Houston Sports Medicine Doc
To learn more about how you can improve your hot weather running routine, schedule an appointment with your Houston sports medicine doctor at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. Schedule online or call (713) 756-5546.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.