Before walking up to the start line on race day at the River to Sea 12 hour race (a timed event held in late August in Florida), Dawn Lisenby has already emailed runners several times; while much of this information is the usual race specific details, Dawn takes time with each email AND at the start line to make sure runners know the importance of heat mitigation. She outlines several tips and monitors runners carefully throughout the day; it’s easy to spot runners who don’t follow her seasoned advice.
Heat mitigation is all about balance. Many runners new to the heat running scene think, “I’ll just up my water intake,” they would likely dehydrate quickly and wind up with a screaming headache or worse. Dawn explains that in the heat our bodies need electrolytes.
Each athlete’s electrolyte requirement is different, she encourages athletes to test out different concentrations during training. One thing Dawn emphasized is to dilute electrolyte mixes. Some of your favorite electrolyte beverages are carbohydrate heavy.
This can cause digestive issues later on in the race as your body attempts to cool and digest simultaneously. Our bodies prioritize cooling, hence efficient digestion takes a back seat. Diluted electrolytes, or lower carbohydrate concentration electrolyte drinks, are your best bet when you’re running hot.
Keeping cool so that you can properly hydrate and fuel throughout the day should also take priority. At Jack’s 50K in October -where it can still be 90 degrees and humid in Florida- Dawn instructed volunteers to encourage runners to utilize ice every chance they get.
Bandanas and buffs that can hold ice on the neck, white arm sleeves that can hold ice near the wrists, and hats with pockets for ice as well all provide ideal methods for keeping the sun off of your skin and places to stash those cooling cubes. Remember, the cooler you are the easier it will be for your body to digest and process fuel in order to keep you moving forward.
While most folks think of running and racing in the heat in terms of survival (definitely the priority), it is possible to stay relatively comfortable in sweltering conditions. Oddly enough an area runners often overlook is their feet. Take care of your feet by having properly fitting shoes and customizing your shoe’s fit with Caterpy no tie shoelaces.
Additionally, lubing up before your race to avoid possible issues created from hot, humid conditions, is highly recommended. Apply your favorite athletic lube to heels, tops and bottoms of feet, between toes, and well, all over prior to your run or race. Many folks have areas on their feet more prone to hot spots than others. Tape those areas first using an athletic tape then lube generously. This will not only keep you from blistering, but keep your feet soft and help prevent the dreaded runner’s foot.
Dawn Lisenby is known as The Natural Run Coach. She is not only an accomplished ultra runner (ahem Badwater 146 Solo, two time Keys 100, and Grindstone 100 finisher to name a few), she also coaches successful athletes and directs some of Florida's hottest races. To learn more about Dawn’s events or coaching visit East Coast Trail Racing.