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Excessive Heat Watch/Advisory: Training Run Recommendations

The Chicagoland area is under a heat advisory from 12:00pm Thursday, July 18th until 7:00pm on Saturday, July 20th. The adverse conditions do not have to mean no running over the next few days. However, runners do need to adjust their training plans to ensure they can run safely.

Based on the dew point and heat index CARA is advising runners to slow their training paces by 5% over the next few days. All CARA training groups will be following this plan. The specific heat adjusted paces are listed below:

  • 7:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 7:52 pace per mile

  • 8:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 8:24 pace per mile

  • 8:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 8:55 pace per mile

  • 9:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 9:27 pace per mile

  • 9:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 9:58 pace per mile

  • 10:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 10:30 pace per mile

  • 10:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 11:01 pace per mile

  • 11:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 11:33 pace per mile

  • 11:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 12:04 pace per mile

  • 12:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 12:36 pace per mile

  • 12+ pace per mile: 5% slower = 12:36 pace per mile to 13:39 pace per mile

CARA training sites begin their runs between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Runners not part of CARA groups are encouraged to start their runs early, as the conditions do worsen as the day goes on. Those running later in the day may need to slow their pace by 10-15%, or choose an alternative option such as treadmill running indoors.

The change in pacing is to allow for the prescribed effort of our long runs to remain where it should be for the intended training goal. Running in hot conditions can be more challenging, and while runners can understandably be focused on pace goals. The most important aspect of training is running the appropriate effort for the appropriate amount of time or distance.

Attempting to maintain a normal pace in adverse conditions not only changes the training adaptation. It over-stresses the body and may become dangerous in extreme conditions.

Some other general tips for your runs include breaking your run into several shorter loops. Running a loop course that brings you back by home or your starting point allows you to end your run early if your body is not cooperating well with the heat. An out and back only course could leave you miles from home at a time when you need to cut a run short.

Going into your run hydrated is crucial. If your urine is not clear or light yellow, you are likely not well hydrated enough to run in these conditions.

Assuming you are hydrating well during the week, drink 20 oz of water 90min before your run. Continue to sip 6-8 oz of water or Gatorade or electrolyte drink every 15min leading up to your run. Avoid caffeine and alcohol 24-48hrs prior to your run. Increase fluid intake of both water and sports drinks throughout the day. Increase salt intake via foods and sports drinks throughout the day. Be well rested going into your long run as the heat has a cumulative effect.

During the run drink 6-8 oz of fluid (Gatorade or water) every 15-20 minutes or as close to those intervals as you can. Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Wear a white hat to keep the sun off of your face. Listen to your body and do not try to "push through" heat exhaustion.

Runners should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion including:

  • Confusion

  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Muscle or abdominal cramps

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

  • Pale skin

  • Profuse sweating

  • Rapid heartbeat

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms stop your run immediately, find a cool place to relax, get hydrated, and seek help.

Immediately after completing your run start to lower your body temperature. Use cold water, cold washcloths, ice order to lower body temperature. Find shade as quickly as possible, and begin drinking 20 oz of water immediately following activity. Also, include 32-64 oz of Gatorade or electrolyte drink to balance out sodium and potassium levels. Shower soon after to clean off sweat and salt deposits, unblock pores and continue to cool body temperature down to speed up recovery. Rest as much as possible post-run and stay in cool environments

For questions on heat-related recommendations or specific questions about how to modify your training due to the heat, please email:

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