1

Hot/humid race, douse yourself with cold water?? (Read 139 times)

AndyTN


Overweight per CDC BMI

    Summer races in Memphis lead you to a miserable experience when you aren't used to the heat/humidity. I ran a 5 mi race (poorly) beginning of August which was foggy at 100% humidity with temp 77 at 7am and I have never seen so many sub-7 pace runners walking in the last couple miles. I ran an evening race end of May with a heat index at 93 in which I was one of those fast runners having to walk some during the last mile.

     

    I know the concept of why heat slows you down since your body is using oxygen and energy to produce sweat. When running a hot/humid race, would it be an effective strategy to have a water bottle of ice cold water which you are dousing your back, chest, and neck during the first mile(s)? The thought being that you are cooling your body down proactively at the beginning of the race to greatly reduce the amount of sweat your body is going to produce. I would still drink my normal amount of water during the race to stay hydrated and I know the wet shirt/shorts are going to weigh you down a little even with wicking material.

     

    I ran a 10k this past weekend which I stashed a bottle of ice water on the side of the road at mile 1 and immediately doused myself with it. I ended up running a pace ~20 seconds faster than I did a month earlier in that hot/foggy 5-miler. The weather for the 10k was better with temp at 70 and humidity in low 80's so I am just trying to figure out if my ice water bath made a big difference in combination with the better weather.

     

    I will say the pictures from the race were pretty awful because the water from my shirt ran down and made me look like I peed my shorts but at least I set a new 10k PR... :-)

    Memphis / 35 male

    5k - 21:01 / 10k - 46:30 / Half - 1:40:17 / Full - finish 26.2

    Races - St Jude MEM Marathon December / Road Series July-Nov (5k to 13.1)

    Marky_Mark_17


      We don't deal with anywhere near that level of temperature in New Zealand, but a few of our runners have recently been training for World Championships in Doha where it will be crazy hot (they're running the marathon at midnight as it's the coolest time).  Anyway at this training camp, which was also somewhere ridiculously hot, they tested a bunch of things they're planning on using at world champs, including "pre-cooling" with ice vests, slushies, etc. to give the athletes a bit more room for their temperature to rise over the course of race.  Same sort of logic as what you've done!

       

      PS nice job on the PR!

      5,000m: 15:39 (Dec-19) | 10,000m: 32:34 (Mar-20) | 10km: 33:15 (Sep-19) 

      HM: 1:09:41 (May-20)* | FM: 2:41:41 (Oct-20)

      * Net downhill course

      Last race: Southern Lakes Half Marathon, 1 May, 1:09:41 (1st place)

      Up next: Meridian Hydro Half Marathon (trail), 7 Aug

      "CONSISTENCY IS KING"

      rlopez


        Keeping ice/cold on yourself is a definite go-to strategy in a desert climate race like the Javelina Jundred. It probably has some benefit, maybe, in a humid climate. But the whole 'evaporative cooling' idea kind of doesn't work so well in high humidity. When I paced at the Keys 100, the ONLY way my runner made it (I mean, besides being supremely awesome and stubborn and focused) was stopping in the middle to regroup and actual legit ice packs. The "stopping" and "ice" are both important here... not the same as dousing with cold water while still trying to run top speed.

        AndyTN


        Overweight per CDC BMI

          Keeping ice/cold on yourself is a definite go-to strategy in a desert climate race like the Javelina Jundred. It probably has some benefit, maybe, in a humid climate. But the whole 'evaporative cooling' idea kind of doesn't work so well in high humidity. When I paced at the Keys 100, the ONLY way my runner made it (I mean, besides being supremely awesome and stubborn and focused) was stopping in the middle to regroup and actual legit ice packs. The "stopping" and "ice" are both important here... not the same as dousing with cold water while still trying to run top speed.

           

          Agreed about the evaporation in the humidity not helping which is why I was saying it needed to be ice cold. I would not dump everything at once but spray a couple ounces of water every 30 seconds or so. In the humid 5-miler, I tried using the water cups at the aid stations but these were room temp and just made me even more wet instead of cooling me off. In the humid weather, I'm going to be soaked in sweat anyway so the extra water will just be that so if it is ice cold, it should at least cool me off momentarily.

          Memphis / 35 male

          5k - 21:01 / 10k - 46:30 / Half - 1:40:17 / Full - finish 26.2

          Races - St Jude MEM Marathon December / Road Series July-Nov (5k to 13.1)

          AndyTN


          Overweight per CDC BMI

            We don't deal with anywhere near that level of temperature in New Zealand, but a few of our runners have recently been training for World Championships in Doha where it will be crazy hot (they're running the marathon at midnight as it's the coolest time).  Anyway at this training camp, which was also somewhere ridiculously hot, they tested a bunch of things they're planning on using at world champs, including "pre-cooling" with ice vests, slushies, etc. to give the athletes a bit more room for their temperature to rise over the course of race.  Same sort of logic as what you've done!

             

            PS nice job on the PR!

             

            Thanks for the article, very interesting and I couldn't imagine running a long race at midnight in those conditions. It is very clear why they moved the 2020 World Cup to December.

             

            I actually got this idea about the ice water showers mid race from Tour de France this year when they had the heat wave and all the riders were putting those socks with ice in the back of their shirts. The cyclists don't bounce up and down while on a flat road so the ice would stay put unlike a runner.

             

            I tried a soaked frozen towel around my neck during a training run and while it cooled me off a little, I was messing with it so much that it slowed me down. I'm going to continue stashing frozen water bottles on the course and even if it doesn't make me much faster, at least the cold water will be refreshing for a mental boost.

             

            Thanks about the PR. I have put in a lot of work this summer for the series I'm running right now so I am excited to see what I can do in the 10-miler and half once the temps get a bit cooler in October/November.

            Memphis / 35 male

            5k - 21:01 / 10k - 46:30 / Half - 1:40:17 / Full - finish 26.2

            Races - St Jude MEM Marathon December / Road Series July-Nov (5k to 13.1)

            LedLincoln


            not bad for mile 25

              This is actually an interesting topic. I kind of take issue with this statement...

               

               

              I know the concept of why heat slows you down since your body is using oxygen and energy to produce sweat.

               

              I don't think producing sweat actually slows you down a lot. I think what's happening is that the body's automatic shutdown mechanisms are beginning to engage, to keep you from dying. Literally.

               

              In conditions you describe, dousing yourself with water isn't going to help unless it's significantly cooler than body temperature, as you say. Taking ice water internally is another good option. If you can figure out a way to carry an envelope of cool, dry air along with you, that's probably the best option. In lieu of that, you probably just have to slow down a lot.

              rlopez


                Actually, drinking ice water (especially in large amounts) can be problematic. "Ask me how I know". The body has to warm that up to use it for hydration, which takes a combination of energy and time.

                LedLincoln


                not bad for mile 25

                  Actually, drinking ice water (especially in large amounts) can be problematic. "Ask me how I know". The body has to warm that up to use it for hydration, which takes a combination of energy and time.

                   

                  Good to know.

                  AndyTN


                  Overweight per CDC BMI

                    This is actually an interesting topic. I kind of take issue with this statement...

                     

                     

                    I don't think producing sweat actually slows you down a lot. I think what's happening is that the body's automatic shutdown mechanisms are beginning to engage, to keep you from dying. Literally.

                     

                    In conditions you describe, dousing yourself with water isn't going to help unless it's significantly cooler than body temperature, as you say. Taking ice water internally is another good option. If you can figure out a way to carry an envelope of cool, dry air along with you, that's probably the best option. In lieu of that, you probably just have to slow down a lot.

                     

                    I may not have paraphrased it exactly correct but I think it is all about blood being diverted to the skin. Below is an exert from an article on Active.com with the better summary than I provided. Jack Daniels has a calculator to determine how much temps above 60 slow you down. And yes, my hypothesis only applies to ice cold water and a at least a liter of it (soaking shirt) to actually cool down your body proactively.

                     

                    When you exercise strenuously in even moderate heat (above 60 degrees Fahrenheit; above 55 degrees F for beginning runners), you raise your core body temperature. This triggers a release of blood into the capillaries of your skin to cool you down, which then reduces the blood supply available to your exercising muscles. This basically means that you will have less blood and oxygen delivered to the power source that moves you forward--and less blood to move out the waste products from these work sites. As the waste builds up in the muscle, you will slow down.

                     

                    https://www.active.com/running/articles/summer-running-take-precautions-in-the-heat

                    Memphis / 35 male

                    5k - 21:01 / 10k - 46:30 / Half - 1:40:17 / Full - finish 26.2

                    Races - St Jude MEM Marathon December / Road Series July-Nov (5k to 13.1)

                      It is the combo of humidity and heat that is the real problem here.  Used to live and run in Florida Summers.  My strategy included carrying water always (not to dump on me but to drink), wearing ice-bandanas, putting ice cubes under my white cap, wearing lightweight clothes.

                       

                      Your body acclimates to heat by sweating more and with bigger droplets.  The idea is not to make it sweat less but rather to make it as efficient as possible in dealing with the heat.  Dousing yourself with cold water when you are already hot gives about a 5 second fix since the humidity robs you of evaporative cooling from the water.

                       

                      Slowing down is a protective strategy by your body to keep your core temperature down and probably to keep your heart rate from skyrocketing.  I would guess that your cold water dousing success experience had more to do with keeping your core temperature down for longer at the start of the race so it wouldn't start rising so high so quickly.  I would also guess that wearing an ice vest prior to racing would garner a similar result.

                      "Shut up Legs!" Jens Voigt

                      paul2432


                        Ice in a bandanna or buff around the neck and in a hat is a common strategy in hot weather ultras.  Pre-cooling as mentioned above is another good strategy.  That works better in shorter races for obvious reasons.

                        Fredford66


                        Running Musician

                          Didn't Meb Keflezghi and Deena Kastor both wear ice vests until just before the start of the Olypmic marathon in Athens in 2004?  They both made the podium, so that would argue strongly in favor of taking steps to lower your core temperature before or early in a race.  Ice vests are different, though, in that they do not rely on evaporation for cooling and thus are not impacted by humidity.

                          5k 23:59.9 (5/21); 5M 39:33 (11/20); 10k 52:27 (3/19); Half 1:53:35 (4/21)

                          Upcoming race(s): Jersey Shore Half, 10/3
                          slingrunner


                            I ran a marathon where it was about 70 degrees and near 100% humidity.  My partner had some bottles of ice water that I had doused myself with a few times along the course...it helped, but there is only so much benefit you are going to get during 3 hours from occasionally dumping ice on you.

                            I find toweling off to be more beneficial, and something I do often during training runs in the heat.

                            5k- 18:55 (2018)    10K- 39:04 (2017)    Marathon- 3:00:10 (2018)

                              I use to throw a cup of water on me, but I found my singlet would soak it up and get drenched and almost felt like evaporation stopped or slowed... vs. just being sweaty.

                               

                              and the rest of the race I'd have this soaking wet shirt on that almost felt more detrimental than the water helping cool me off.

                              300m- 37 sec.

                              NorthNorthwest


                                I've run a couple marathons in very hot and humid conditions (80-90+ deg far), and was able to get cold water to put on the top of my head and back of neck a few times in the last 10k. I felt that this helped to "revive" me a bit when I was starting to really break down. I suspect that it didn't physically do all that much, but it may have sent a signal to my brain that help is on the way (in the vein of "central governor theory"). Kind of like taking a little nutrition late in a marathon - you likely won't digest it before the finish, but the receptors in your mouth perhaps send a signal to your brain to snap out of crisis mode and let you keep going a bit longer (like the experiments have shown where cyclists swished and spit out sports drink but still got a short-term boost). If my theory is right, this would only work for so long; indeed, the last mile of both of my hot marathons were still death marches. Like rlopez said, in something like an ultra where you hit the wall multiple times and must to recover, you have to actually change something physiological in addition to gutting it out. (e.g. stop, rest, and get your core temp down)

                                 

                                Not quite to the original question, but thought this might be of interest. Fun topic.

                                1