Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beating the Heat

So it was a warm weekend. The kind of weekend temps that San Franciscans dream about. Not just warm during the day but also at night. The type of evenings where restaurants will set up tables outside so patrons can enjoy food and weather out in the open. However if it's warm in the city you just know it's gonna be much warmer outside of it and that was definitely the case Saturday at Mt. Diablo.

It started out chilly but boy did the temperatures rise. Now folks like J~Mom who live in Arizona or Bob in Florida might smile if I said the temps were mostly in the 80s, once hitting 90, but for us trail runners it was hot enough - especially in the exposed dusty trails of the race. According to PCTR it was the hottest day of the year and the hottest April 12th in that area in over 50 years. Lucky us!... I mean that sincerely, those training for Western States got their money's worth. As a runner who lives in San Francisco and runs primarily in the evenings I was quite surprised I didn't suffer more. I felt the heat, was affected by it but there was never a point in the run where it felt oppressive and stifling. Here are some of the things that I did to combat the warm weather.

1) I monitored my effort and exhaustion level, when I felt myself overheating I'd slow to a jog or walk regardless if there was an uphill or not. I'd do the Yoga thing of breathing deeply and mentally relaxing my whole body. I would naturally feel stronger as my body temp dropped and I would resume running.

2) This is a no brainer, I drank a lot and took a lot of salt. I only carried one bottle which was not enough but I tanked up at the aid stations and always left with a full 25 ounce bottle.

3) Making use of the ice available. Will G. at 31 mile aid station graciously added ice to my bottle. On the ensuing up hills, which I would hike, I took out the bottle and iced one of my jugular veins. According to ultra gal Dr. Lisa Bliss, in her pre-race talk at the 2006 Western States 100, this was one of the best places to ice since a lot blood was flowing near the surface. I also had aid station people put ice in my bandana, another trick I picked up at WS100. Again I would use it to ice my neck or hold in my hand as I ran. To have that one spot that was cold was very helpful. I would also use the bandana to soak in cold water which I would then use to wipe away the salt and dust, felt awesome.

5) I would lift my shirt halfway up every time I was in the shade or whenever I encountered a slight breeze. I didn't want to go totally shirtless because I didn't want to burn.

6) Except for my shorts I wore light colored clothing.

7) And lastly, don't laugh, I shaved my legs the day before. I got into the whole leg shaving thing through triathlon. It was vanity to be sure. I wanted to look like the swimmers, like Lance Armstrong, like the top triathlon pros. However by doing so I also did notice that it did indeed got a little cooler down there. Since I was reluctant to shave my head to take it another step further I just settled on the legs.

There you go. What worked for me on Mt. Diablo this past Saturday. However as of yet I have no plan in place to combat the possible humidity at KM100. I may have to pick the brain of last year's champ, Mark Tanaka, or do a little research of my own. Gundy, a fellow San Franciscan, uses the sauna to prepare for Badwater so I might try that as well. He is 2 for 2 at Badwater where the race is 135 miles long and the temps can hit 135F (55c). Something's working.


  1. Great job at Diablo 50. After doing hte Diablo Marathon 2 years ago in 88 degree heat, I swore that wouldn't do that course ever...well, maybe for the time being. I look forward to your training logs and your next 100 mile endeavor.

    All the best,


  2. Great advice for the peeps! I tried #5 to cool down before and got in trouble. j/k

    When are you coming to Phoenix for a race? I was thinking SOMA had your name on it. :>P

  3. Did you write all these tips just for me? ; ) (Miss mild case of heatstroke from Saturday!)

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Olga said from previous post: I am scared of you now - seriously:)
    OK Rick, if Olga Is scared I am too -lol

    Great Race Bro, u are having one heck of a season so far...keep it going it's your year!!

  5. Man, what an incredible race you ran! Awesome job, Rick. Your year is off to a fantastic start, I would say!

    Hopefully the weather at the KM100 will not be incredibly humid for you. Usually the humidity up here doesn't get too bad until July and August. But this is the Midwest, and you should prepare for anything! :)

    Continued success to you, Rick!

  6. Great points, Rick, thanks for pulling them together!

  7. Good tips! At some point I'd like to run Javalina and I know I'll need to train and adjust for the heat.

  8. Squirt =P8:49 AM

    Good for you, tidal wave =P