We are now in the hot embrace of another drought-fueled summer here in Oklahoma. The average daytime maximum temperature for the month of July so far for Oklahoma City is a sultry 97.2°, and the average low minimum temperature is nearly an even 72°. Gulf moisture permeates the air, giving it an invisible weight that must be trudged through nearly every day. The infamous Oklahoma wind that howls across the Plains during the springtime grinds to a halt, as a blinding summer sun arcs ever higher across a cloudless, azure sky. However, workouts never stop – it's just time to redefine the grind!
Running or conducting workouts in the heat and humidity can yield dividends when it comes to competing or working out in a cooler, drier environment. Before I continue, I need to clarify the ranges of heat safe to exercise in. I am not suggesting you lace up and go run 10 miles at 2 o'clock in the afternoon when the temperature is 98° - this would be extremely dangerous. The temperature values I'm referring to are much less, and the time summer exercises are conducted much earlier. I suggest starting your outdoor workouts no later than 7 a.m. in temperatures below 90°. This allows a solid two hour window to get the job done, before the sun soars high enough in the sky to begin baking the ground and air. Dewpoint temperatures and relative humidity values also need to be taken into consideration, as high levels of moisture will further tax the body's ability to sweat and cool. Moisture-wicking, light-colored clothing can help keep your body dry, as well as reflecting the sun's rays – I like the HeatGear line by Under Armour.
Above all else, be warrior smart. Take your time acclimating to exercising out in the heat. If you still feel miserable after a few minutes into your workout, head indoors and get on a treadmill or simply just call it a day. Take time to properly hydrate before, during and after strenuous activity with a beverage that has electrolytes in it like Gatorade. If at any point during your workout you become dizzy, stop sweating, vomit or become disorientated cease exercising! This could be a sign of heat stroke, a potential deadly heat injury that requires immediate medical attention. Sweating the right way now, will help you not sweat the competition during the cooler months!
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