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Bethlehem, Pa., June 19, 2006 –"Some like it hot. Baseball pitchers, surfers, and bathing beauties, are typically first in line. But long-distance runners, be they serious racers or fitness joggers, are usually less enthused," said Mark Will-Weber, former senior editor at Runner's World Magazine, cross-country and track coach at Moravian College, and author of two books on running.
"Although most runners are pleased when they can finally forgo their winter running gear for a pair of shorts and a singlet in those balmy days of spring, soaring summer temperatures bring on special problems. Rising mercury can make running uncomfortable and, at its most extreme, even potentially dangerous with the likes of heat stroke and severe dehydration," Will-Weber continued.
Here are some quick tips on how to handle the heat when it comes barreling in with all the sizzle of a Roger Clemens fastball.
DRESS FOR THE TEST
Those cotton running t-shirts you get for entering a race are probably fine for the post-event picnic, but when temps rise (70 degrees and above) and humidity hovers (50 percent and up) then it's time to get it in gear - special summer running gear, that is. Think lightweight and light in color. Micro-fiber wear (such as "CoolMax") with mesh is the way to roll. If you run in a singlet (a racing vest without shoulder covering), don't forget to lather on the sunscreen (preferably something above SPF 25).
THINK A LITTLE SHADY
Go for the shade -- and go for the shades. A running route beneath a canopy of towering maples and oaks is a better choice than a treeless urban thoroughfare, choked with cars - and exhaust fumes. Trees (and grasses), however, can kick up your allergies. Because pollen packs more of a punch when it gets blown around (in your eyes and up nostrils), think about a pair of lightweight running shades. Sunglasses help against pollen and protect against the sun at the same time. Allergy suffers also do well to plan their workouts in late afternoon or early evenings, since pollen levels tend to be higher between dawn and mid-morning.
Drink before you run, and drink during your run. Even a 30-minute jog on a warm July day might require 16 ounces of fluid. Don't trust your "thirst mechanism" to get you "on the level" in terms of fluid; by the time runners feel thirsty, it's usually too late. The body can't replenish fluids as rapidly as it sweats on those true "dog days." Remember that some decongestants (such as allergy sufferers might take) can also contribute to dehydration; likewise for other popular beverages such as coffee and alcohol. (So save that mug of beer for several hours after your run!) Sports drinks have a bonus of replenishing glucose (which will give your blood sugar a quick "boost") and salt, but pure cool water is still a great way to go. On race days, runners sometimes like to try a "half and half" - half sports drink, half water.
TURN THAT STUFF OFF!
My father used to yell that up the stairs when I was booming the Rolling Stones on my stereo way back when. Turning it off is actually a good idea if you are out running; leave your portable music for the beach. Why? Because you really take away one of your most valuable "safety senses" - hearing - if you insist on "plugging in" while you're running. You might not hear that mountain biker yell "On your left!" when he comes screaming down the trail behind you - regardless if you're listening to The Sex Pistols or Mozart.
THE COMPETITIVE EDGE (Two Good Tips For Free)
Beginning runners competing in races can sometimes get anxious when it comes to taking sports drink or water at the aid stations. Here's how to "handle it": First, try to get a cup near the end of the aid station table; that way you'll avoid a lot of the "traffic" from other runners stopping at the same table. The trick is to avoid "rush hour." Second, "pinch" the paper cup - don't try to grab it with an open palm because when you're fatigued from racing, you just might drop it. Instead, pinch the cup at the top - so that as you glance down at the cup, you will see a "figure eight." Using this method will allow you to hang onto the cup, and down its contents with greater ease because your "pinch" has helped you form an easy-to-drink-from funnel.
Will-Weber recently released his second book, The Running Trivia Book: 1,001 Questions from the Sprints to the Marathons. The book was published by Breakaway Books, the same company that published Will-Weber's first book, The Quotable Runner.
Though he began his career as a sportswriter, Will-Weber is in his nineteenth year of coaching Moravian College teams. In recent years, he has found great success with the women's squad, reaching the Middle Atlantic Conference Championships in 10 of the last 12 years and finishing in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships six times since 1993. He was named the Women's Mideast Region Coach of the Year in 1993.
The Moravian men have also enjoyed Will-Weber's guidance, achieving a 50-15-1 record during his tenure. As an assistant track and field coach, he has worked with a dozen All-Americans including three national champions and two runners-up. Prior to coming to Moravian, he held coaching positions at Lehigh University and at the high school level. When he is not leading Moravian's teams to victory, he still races competitively. Will-Weber is a former member of the Saucony National Racing Team.
Despite being published several years ago, The Quotable Runner continues to capture new audiences. Both The Running Trivia Book and The Quotable Runner are available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and "running specialty" stores or through direct purchase from Breakaway Books.