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Steal My Sunshine...PLEASE!

In an attempt to adjust to running in the warmer temperatures, I started my run a little after 8 am this morning. I had 12 miles planned. After 3.5 miles, I decided to head home and finish on Millie. About a mile from my house, there is a bank with one of those signs that tells the time and temperature. It was a little after 9 am and already 90 degrees.

The heat just zaps all the energy from my body. And there wasn't a cloud in the sky and hardly a hint of a breeze to give me some relief. I think I may have even been borderline delirious most of the run because I didn't really think about anything but just kept hearing the song Call Me Maybe in my head over and over. And I wasn't listening to music.

I would rather run all day in a blizzard than one hour in 90+ degree temperatures.

I called my hubs when I got home and told him I might just lie down on the side of the road and give up during the St. George Marathon (in October) if it is hot again this year.

Since most of you aren't pathetic wusses when it comes to running in the heat, I decided to share this article, which has a lot of info that you might already know but also has some great reminders and info that might be useful when running in the rising temps.

Happy Friday!!

Heat Illness for Runners: Causes and Prevention

by Dr. Cathy Fieseler

As the temperature rises, the risk of heat illness increases. During exercise, a significant amount of heat is generated. In cool weather, this generated heat is transferred to the air. In hot weather, this transfer of heat is inhibited, causing a greater increase in the body temperature. Sweating occurs to help regulate body temperature; the evaporation of sweat from the skin results in dissipation of heat. As the humidity rises, there is a decreased rate of evaporation of sweat, diminishing the cooling effect.

Exercising in the heat places a great stress on the body. Performance is decreased; heart rate is increased compared to the same level of activity at a cooler temperature. The risks of dehydration and heat illness increase as the temperature and humidity increase.

The body will adapt to repeated episodes of exercise in the heat to reduce the impact of heat on performance and the risk of heat illness (the risk of dehydration is not reduced). With acclimatization, the amount of fluid circulating in the body is increased to meet the demands of exercising muscles. Sweating will occur earlier in the course of exercise and at a lower core temperature. The rate of sweat production is increased and the sodium content of the sweat is decreased. These adaptations will occur over a 7 to 15 day period and will persist for up to 3 weeks after leaving a hot environment.

No one is immune to the risk of heat illness, but the risk is greater in those who are out of shape, overweight, dehydrated, ill, taking certain medications or supplements, or are not acclimatized to the heat. Wearing excessive clothing (i.e. tights) or a helmet and padding decreases the body’s ability to dissipate heat resulting in an increase in core temperature.

Heat illness from exertion is a spectrum of disorders ranging from heat cramps to heat stroke. Dehydration is a major factor in each of these disorders; dehydration negatively impacts the body’s ability to dissipate heat and athletic performance. Symptoms of dehydration may include thirst, irritability, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, cramps, chills, weakness and fatigue. Checking weight prior to and following exercise provides guidelines for assessing the degree of dehydration; each pound that was lost represents a 16 ounce fluid deficit that needs to be replaced.

Heat Cramps

The exact cause of muscle cramps is not truly known, but cramping tends to occur later in activity, in association with fatigue and dehydration. Athletes who lose a lot of salt in their sweat (white crust on clothing and skin) often experience muscle cramps.

Gentle stretching and massage may help reduce pain from cramping. Lost fluids and salt must be replaced in the diet.

Heat Exhaustion

As a result of strenuous activity in the heat, the body may not be able to deal with the increasing demands on the cardiac and circulatory systems, causing heat exhaustion. Symptoms may include severe fatigue, dizziness, fainting, chills or goose bumps, dehydration, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach or muscle cramps. The core (rectal) temperature is elevated, but typically less than 104o F (40oC).

The athlete should be removed from the heat and cooled off. Lay him/her with the legs elevated. Ice packs on the groin, armpits and neck may be used for cooling. Have the athlete drink cool water or sports drink. If disorientation develops, vomiting prevents rehydration or any symptoms worsen, the athlete should be transported to the emergency room.

The athlete should be evaluated by a physician prior to return to exercise following an episode of heat exhaustion. A gradual return to full activity and intensity is recommended.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke due to exertion is the result of the breakdown of the thermoregulatory system; this causes severe stress on the circulatory, metabolic and nervous systems. The body temperature rises to extreme levels, causing cell and tissue damage and could result in death.

This is a medical emergency. The core (rectal) temperature is usually greater than 104oF (40oC); temperatures taken in the ear, armpit or orally do not adequately reflect the body temperature. The athlete has mental status changes; he/she may be unconscious, irritable, convulsing, confused or disoriented. Typically the athlete is sweating in the case of exertional heat stroke. Any of the symptoms listed for heat exhaustion may also be present.

The most important part of treatment is to start cooling the athlete immediately as an ambulance is called. Place ice on the neck, groin and armpits, spray with cold water or immerse in a tub of cold water. Monitor the breathing, pulse and temperature closely. Stop the cooling when the core temperature reaches 101o F. The athlete should be transported to the emergency room.


The risk of heat illness can be decreased by slowly increasing activities in the hot weather. Checking your weight prior to and following exercise allows rehydration prior to the next workout. Add salt to your food while exercising in the heat. Limit exercise if you are sick. Stay away from supplements containing stimulants. The risk of heat illness is increased by medications such as certain antidepressants, anticholinergics, antihistamines, diuretics, and beta blockers; use of alcohol and many abused drugs; sleep deprivation; certain chronic medical conditions and obesity. Children and the elderly are at increased risk of heat illness. Be smart and stay safe. Don’t tough it out if you start to feel ill; early treatment of heat illness will prevent a potentially fatal outcome.

Dr. Fieseler is the Director of Sports Medicine for the Trinity Mother Frances Health System in Tyler, TX. She is a regular contributor to Running Times and has served as the chairperson for the sports medicine committee of the Road Runners Club of America. For more information on Dr. Fieseler’s medical services, click on Dr. Cathy Fieseler.

© 2012 Savvy Runner Inc.
“Bennett Cohen (The Savvy Runner) and Gail Gould are the Founders and Presidents of the International Association of Women Runners. To learn more about this global community of women runners, visit


  1. So, what you are saying is that I shouldn't run until I puke? Because that's exactly what I did on Tuesday morning's run. :)

  2. Not running last summer and being two years removed from living in Florida, the heat is definitely kicking my ass this summer when I am out running. I have almost passed out twice and spent an entire morning barfing my brains out from the heat. I don't think there's anyway to really get used to the heat other than to go live in Florida!

    Try to stay cool friend!!!

  3. I'm TOTALLY a pathetic loser in the heat. I'm terrified about my 12 miler tomorrow. I don't want to have to sleep in someone's lawn or run through all of the sprinklers.

  4. I'm freaking out today since I over slept (as if it would have mattered what time I got up to run). I have no treadmill here in VA and it may be 100 degrees at 9 p.m. tonight. Eeekkkk! It may be a minimum mileage day today.

    And with a high of 105 for tomorrow, I'm crossing my fingers for a treadmill soon! ;-)

  5. I feel the same way! I'd rather run in the cold than the heat any day of the week.

  6. It was 102, thick, muggy and gross in Maryland today. When I left for the gym (body pump) at 5am it was 82 degrees already and felt too hot to run. I start marathon training in 2 days - tomorrow is a rest day. I have NO races scheduled this summer... one mid sept and one Nov. Im hopeful it will be slightly cooler in Sept but will run on warmer days come aug just in case to get used to it. Otherwise if its about 80 for my morning runs then it will be at the gym... to get a 12 mile run in without wanting to shoot myself in the head - I ran 2 miles each on 6 different treadmills... people looked at me like I was crazy!

  7. I hate the heat! Bless you for giving it a try.

  8. I hear you!!! Running in the heat is terrible. Last week I went for a run in the pouring rain, and came home dripping wet, and I still liked it better than running in high temperatures.


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