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That Time an Elephant Joined Me for My Run

By Leigh-Ann Mueller on 05/25/2016 | Wellness Tips

It was 2:30 in the afternoon and 85 degrees on a spring day─the first hot day of the year. I headed out for an “easy” 30 minute run. Within the first ten steps, I felt Mr. Elephant’s presence. He was sitting on my chest. So I slowed down… WAY down. Luckily, I knew that there was a possibility of him joining me and I wore only my stopwatch so that I wouldn’t be discouraged by my pace which was probably 30 to 45 seconds slower than my normal aerobic one. Mr. Elephant stayed with me but moved onto my back. I could breathe a little easier but my legs felt the weight of carrying a ten ton mammal.

By the end of the run, I was sweating more than I have in a long time and I felt more like I’d run a hard 5k instead of an easy 30 minutes. I told Mr. Elephant I would see him again for the next few weeks as long as the heatwave continues but after that he needs to find a new training partner because my body will become elephant-proof.

It’s starting to get hot in many parts of the country and our bodies are not used to it yet! Here are some really important things to keep in mind as runners adapt to the warmer weather:

1) It takes about two weeks of consistent heat exposure for the body to acclimate. Expect to see increases in heart rates, drops in paces, increased fatigue and longer recovery periods as the adjustment takes place. You are not losing fitness and you have not suddenly become the worst runner on the planet! Your body is just going through a transition period. 

2) Electrolytes are just as important as hydration. Water alone will not be sufficient in hot weather. If you are not training with an electrolyte sports drink, supplement with an electrolyte product such as Salt Stick or Base Salt.

3) On a long workout, run with a hydration belt and plan your hydration stops. Don't let yourself "run dry"! To avoid running out, do loops where you can stash fluid and electrolytes in a cooler at the end of each one.

 

4) Try doing intense sessions early in the morning or late in the evening. That way you are more likely to hit targets. If you have no choice but to run in the heat of the day, keep your sessions easy until your body adjusts. 

5) If you do happen to get dehydrated, low in electrolytes or overheated, realize that it may take a few days to fully recover. You may feel extremely lethargic, sore and tired for a period of time afterward. Drink, drink, drink and take extra electrolytes during this time period. Give your body rest and stay out of the heat until you feel better!

As the weather starts to get hot, be smart about adjusting your intensity, taking in proper nutrition and limiting runs during the warmest part of the day. Be smart for about two weeks, and you will drop Mr. Elephant like a bad habit!

 

Leigh-Ann Mueller

Author

Leigh-Ann Mueller is a mom, wife, competitive triathlete and multi-sport coach living in Davidson, NC. Through her business, www.lgmcoaching.com, she helps runners, cyclists and triathletes of all levels  achieve their goals.

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