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From Meg Barton
Posted On: Dec 05, 2006

Heat Considerations for the Running Athlete


                Heat can adversely affect a runner’s performance and, in some cases, can pose serious health problems. There are three types of heat illness:

(1)     Heat Cramps – heat cramps are extremely painful muscle spasms that occur most commonly in the calf, and abdomen.  The runner who likely will get cramps is someone who is in shape but overexerts in the heat. 

(2)     Heat Exhaustion – heat exhaustion results from inadequate replacement of fluids lost through sweating.  The athlete will collapse and have profuse sweating, flushed skin, dizziness, hyperventilation, and rapid pulse.

(3)     Heatstroke – heatstroke is a serious , life threatening emergency.  The specific causes of heatstroke is unknown, it is characterized by sudden collapse with the loss of consciousness, pale skin, the athlete will be sweating.  Heatstroke can occur suddenly and without warning, the athlete will not usually experience signs of heat exhaustion or heat cramps. 


The following precautions can be taken to help prevent heat illness:

q       Drink plenty of fluids prior to running, while running, and after running.  Water is the best for replacing lost body fluids.

q       Avoid running in the hottest part of the day.  Run either early in the morning or late in the evening.

q       If you must run in the hottest part of the day make sure that you are acclimatized.  That it is make sure that you are used to the heat prior to exercising in the heat. 

q       Wear loose fitting clothing.



                A good flexibility program should be a part of any exercise program.  Good flexibility will help to prevent allot of injuries such as muscle strains and muscle pulls.  There are several keys to a good flexibility program:

q       Warm up prior to stretching.  Take just a few minutes to warm up.  A light jog to get the core body temperature up.

q       Do not stretch to a point of pain.  Stretching should be comfortable not painful.

q       The best way to stretch is to hold a stretch for an extended amount of time.  That is hold a stretch for 15-30 seconds.

q       Cool down and stretch after exercising.

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