Monday, July 9, 2012

Coach's Corner - Is it too hot to run?

Coach's Corner 
With Coach Jerry Alexander

Because of dedication or stupidity (I’d like to think it was the former, but it probably was the latter), I repeatedly re-learned the lesson that running in the heat is a perilous endeavor. Every year, during the first heat wave of the season, I’d train as though the weather was not a factor, and every year, towards the end of a run, I’d start to feel light headed, then nauseous, then cramps would set in, and before I knew what hit me, I’d be on my way to heat exhaustion. Believe me, you do not want to experience this first-hand. The only guaranteed way to avoid running yourself into heat-related illness this summer is to stop running until Labor Day.

But if you’re reading this, you’re not likely to take three months off. The good news is that if you develop the proper habits, you can run safely this summer. Those habits include proper hydration (water and sports drinks are good, coffee and soda are bad); avoiding the heat of the day by running in the morning (the earlier the better); running in the shade as much as possible (stay off the track, which offers little or no shade); and adjusting expectations for your performance (elite athletes are not at their best when it’s 95 degrees and sixty percent humidity, and you should not expect to be either).

The most important habit, however, is to exercise good judgment. I can’t stress enough that you should always, always err on the side of caution when it comes to the heat. If you think it’s too hot to run on a particular day, don’t. It’s far preferable to miss a day now and then than to risk heat-related illness. 
Jerry Alexander is the famed coach of the Georgetown Racing Team and can be seen leading some of the area's most talented athletes.  For more information about the Racing Team, visit

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