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8 Ways to Survive Running in the Heat

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    Drink a Water Bottle First

    No surprise: Hydration is key. If you're getting ready to run for an hour or less, drink an 8-ounce water bottle, says D. Michael Kelly, a physical therapist at NovaCare Rehabilitation in Chicago and running instructor at Shred415 who's clocked 15 marathons. If you're training for a long race (think half-marathon or more) and heading out for a run that'll last longer than an hour, drink 16 ounces of water first, starting 30 minutes before you start.

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    Don't Drink in Excess

    Hydrate throughout your run, too, but don't overdo it: There's a big difference between overhydration and proper hydration, Kelly says. To tell if you're hydrating properly, weigh yourself before and after your run. "You should actually lose weight during your run, but people who drink too much water will gain weight," he says. (Overhydration is bad news because it could cause hyponatremia, a lack of salt in the body.) Ideally, you'll lose two to five percent of your weight. Don't get too excited, though. It's water weight that'll come back as you refuel.

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    Leave the Sweat on Your Face

    Sweat is your body's way of keeping you cool. If you wipe it away, you'll be wiping the cooling benefits away from your forehead and onto the sidewalk below, Kelly says. You can also keep your body temperature in check by taking a cold shower before you head out, he says. That buys you time before your body starts feeling the heat.

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    Minimize Your Sun Exposure

    To delay the heating-up process, go for wicking materials in light colors that don't absorb the sun. Add a hat or a visor for a one-two punch of blocking the bright sun and reducing your skin's contact with its rays. "Less skin in contact with the sun means you won't warm up as fast," Kelly says.

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    Keep Your Heart Rate in Check

    On hot days, be willing to slow your pace. To make sure you stay in a safe zone, Kelly recommends wearing a heart-rate monitor on your run. Subtract your age from 180 to find that target number.

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    Train in the Heat

    Most runners reserve long runs for early mornings before the heat rolls in. But that doesn't prepare you for a scorching race day when you have no control over the start time or the temperature, Kelly says. Instead, do a couple of long training runs in the dead of summer to learn how to deal, so there's less of a freak-out factor on race day, he says.

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    Sign Up for Late Summer Races

    If you live in a four-season climate where summer's temperatures drastically differ from winter's, give your body time to acclimate to the heat, Kelly says. Your sweat mechanisms will have more efficiency and your ability to handle the heat will be much better during August races compared to May. In fact, all it takes is 14 days of training in the heat to teach your body how to sweat better, keep your heart rate in check, and increase sweating efficiency, he says.

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    Pay Attention to the Race Alert System

    You know those color-coded flags that serve as race alert systems? Pay attention—they're not just decoration. Red flags indicate it's a high condition day. On those days, simply try to enjoy the course and not go for your PR (personal record), Kelly says. "The people who are ready and understand how to pace themselves in the heat are going to do a lot better in these hot conditions."