Arizona is bizarro world. Most places in the country hibernate and cower from the elements during the winter, but we do it in the late spring and summer – and heck, a little bit of autumn, too. You wouldn’t believe the number of people in this desert city who never learn to deal with the elements, preferring instead to scurry like suited-or-skirted rats from one air-conditioned space to another.
Those of us who choose to embrace the desert do it differently, especially when it comes to outdoor exercise in the heat. You really can survive summertime exercise and adventures in 100-degree-plus heat – you just have to be smart. Ask any member of the local fire department about all the nasty ways heat can hurt you – they’ve rescued enough ill-prepared people to know.
Here are some of my favorite tips to ensure YOU won’t need to be rescued. Feel free to suggest any I’ve overlooked!
1. Bring enough water. It would astound you how many people prepare badly for a foray into the hot sun. My rule of thumb is 30 ounces per hour. You can use a hydration pack, or one of these new-fangled water belts favored by runners.
2. Electrolytes – they’re what YOU crave. Sweating a lot burns off your electrolytes. Get too low on
sodium and potassium and you’re headed for cramp city – or worse. You’ll also feel horrible the rest of the day, with headaches a frequent symptom. If you’re out longer than an hour, use a good-quality sports drink. Gatorade isn’t terrible, but I prefer Cytomax.
3. Get started early. Leaving at high noon for a 10-mile run is gonna hurt. If you get started at 6 a.m., you can get done before the temperatures get really brutal.
4. Hydrate days before. Staying hydrated is a never-ending task. What you drank the day before is important.
5. Recover! Replace your electrolytes and calories. After a hot-weather run, a cold glass of V-8 really helps replace all the salt you sweated out. Chase that by more water and maybe even a sugary beverage to replace your calories.
6. Freeze your water bottles. The night before your exercise, pop your bottles in the freezer. It will help them stay cold at least a bit longer.
7. Bring a snack. This is essential if you’re spending an extended period outdoor.
8. Wear sunscreen. It definitely helps you feel cooler.
For more reading on the fun-filled world of heat-related illnesses and the good times of dehydration, check out these links:
Gorp.com on heat stroke, dehydration and prevention
How to assess the stages of heat illness
So now you’re dehydrated … here’s how to deal with it
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Running in Arizona is certainly hard core. I guess though if you do go out early it can’t be too horrendous? I am paranoid about becoming dehydrated so I never leave without my hydration belt if I am going over 3 miles. I do this even in perfect running weather, i.e. 43 F!
It’s not nearly as bad with an early start. My typical run is just short of 5 miles, and I don’t carry water in the winter. When it starts getting warmer, though, I’m practically carrying a water bottle to the mailbox!
Great tips, even if you don’t live in the desert. Summers here in Minnesota can get brutal, believe it or not. It rarely gets into triple digit heat, but 90 degrees with almost 100% humidity is just as bad, maybe even a little bit worse. Ever tried Brawndo, by the way? I just noticed not long ago that it actually exists. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Oh, man! I can’t believe Brawndo is real! I am so plugging it into Google right now …