I am preparing for a Fall marathon. I live in South Carolina. I struggle with the heat and humidity. I typically run early in the morning, but the weather can still be hot and humid then.
When my running club meets at 5:00 a.m. for long runs, I have trouble getting in enough fuel. I take energy tablets beforehand, and gels at 2, 4 and 6 miles, as well as drink water until my stomach is loaded, But I am still dizzy the last two to three miles. I sweat more than others, so I worry about getting dehydrated. Suggestions?
Dear Morning Runner,
If you have no time (or appetite) to eat 200-300 calories before an early morning run (such as English muffin, oatmeal, banana with peanut butter, etc.), try eating that fuel the night before. This will help energize your run the next morning. The energy tablets are likely just caffeine … too much caffeine (and not enough food) can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy. Experiment to figure out if food is preferable to stimulants from pills…
Heat bothers some runners more than others. Perhaps you could carry a frozen water bottle? Store one in your freezer and grab it pre-run. (You might want to stick it into a sock or wrap it with a facecloth.) It will help keep you cool, as well as provide water (or sports drink) during your run.
You likely want to learn your sweat rate, so you know how much you need to drink to prevent over- and under-hydration. Weigh yourself naked before and after a one-hour run. If you lose one pound, that equates to 16 ounces of water-deficit. Two pounds = 32 ounces = 1 quart. On the next run, plan to drink according to your sweat losses. That is, if you lose two pounds an hour, you want to target drinking 8 ounces every 15 minutes.
PS. For more detailed information on hydration and managing summer heat, please take a look at my Food Guide for Marathoners and/or my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Many runners have found these books to be very helpful.