Run for Your Life: Heat, humidity and hills


The Shelter Island run, whether 5K or 10K, is billed as a race.

Therefore, we bring our most competitive selves to the contest to win. That’s human, and struggle can produce our best performance. Just think of the rewards. You may have bragging rights by running one minute/mile faster than your personal best time.

A 45-year-old might beat out his 24-year-old son-in-law at the finish line. But, are such rewards worth risking your life? Not likely! Advice: Enjoy the race by running within your limits by listening to your body.

Never risk a lot for a little. This is a core metric of risk management. How many of you don’t buy homeowners’ insurance because “we’d never have a fire” or splurge at Vine Street with what you “saved” by not buying property damage protection on your new Lexus? Not many.

From a risk perspective, the Shelter Island race presents hazards that must be respected. If you are a morning runner/walker, then the heat and humidity on June 20 at 5:30 p.m. may represent conditions that should cause you to forget personal best goals or beating your son-in- law. Heat and humidity, when combined with our many hills, can lead to serious overheating. Your body is generating more heat than it can discharge. The bottom line is stop; rest until you are comfortable.

Two thoughts: First, your brain tries to run the show. But, for the risk of overheating, it’s your body you must listen to. Your mind may be telling you, in classic “Rocky” style, “winners never quit,” etc. If your body shows any signs of confusion or dizziness, then obey it as warnings of heat exhaustion. Immediately get out of the heat and rest.

Walking is an option and you may be surprised at how quickly you might recover and continue to prudently run. Walking will not cause you to lose your job, suffer financial ruin or even be denied food/drink or welcome to the after-race party.

Second, hydrate. Runners can easily lose several pounds in the course of the race. So consider taking water beforehand and stopping at each water station — we have three — and actually drink a cup. Throw a second one on your head for good measure.

While heat and humidity are general concerns, be especially careful on hills. A slower uphill pace will preserve your energy for the flats and downhills. Remember the turtle and the hare lesson. You may be passing those hares charging up Cobbetts hill well before the race finishes.

See you on the race course.