runDisney Dangers: Heat and Humidity

I just love runDisney.  It got me back into running and fitness after over a decade of being so focused on my career and family that I forgot to take care of myself.  And I love the runDisney community of runners and spectators!  So I wanted to make sure that I did whatever little things I can to help everyone have a fun and safe race experience.

While Disney is an uber-safe place to play, there are some hidden dangers in racing runDisney and I think forewarned is forearmed.  One of the biggest “hidden” dangers is the unpredictability of the weather in Central Florida, especially from October through June.  From July through September, it’s a given that the weather will be lows in the low 70’s, highs in the low 90’s and afternoon thunderstorms.  But for the rest of the year, it can be freezing cold, blistering hot, dry for months or torrential storms for days.  And most of the time, the weather forecast isn’t all that reliable until a few days out (if that!).

runDisneyDangersHHThe fact that runDisney draws runners from all over the country (and internationally too!) is a big part of the danger inherent in the unseasonable heat and humidity that rotates through the weather forecast all fall and winter long.  While it can get down to freezing and most of the winter a jacket is welcome, we Floridians are accustomed to the fact that a few days of frigid weather inevitably lead to a few days of mild weather and then very warm and humid weather, followed by a rainy/stormy front that brings in more cold weather.  If the race weekend falls on one of those beautiful mild weather days, all is well.

Unfortunately, lately mother nature has been having fun with runDisney runners and has been throwing the worst of the weather at us on race weekends.  And when it is warm and humid, it’s tough enough on the Floridian runners who are mostly used to training in it.  It’s downright unsafe for runners from Northern states who have gotten accustomed to training in freezing temperatures for months.  Going directly from running in snow to running in 70 degrees and 98% humidity is not easy on the body.

Luckily, runDisney does a great job of posting with their Event Alerting System both at the Expo and over Twitter and Facebook.  What you want to see is this green flag.  Anything else means conditions are less than ideal.

EventAlertSystemIf the forecast is calling for warm (really anything over 60 degrees at 4am is going to end up being warm when you’re running later) temperatures and high humidity on race day or runDisney has changed from the green flag to yellow or red, here are my tips for staying safe and having a fun race instead of a miserable one:

  • If you possibly can, do a test run in Orlando the day or two before the race.  Just a short and easy mile or two shakeout run to see how the conditions feel during a run.  My run this past weekend was 73 degrees and 92% humidity.  When I walked out of the door in a tank top and SparkleSkirt, it was breezy, overcast and felt pleasant.  After a mile it was oppressive and I was already drenched in sweat.  And I’m used to this weather!  You won’t know how it will feel during the run unless you take a test run.  And that’s important for the next suggestion.
  • Watch the weather forecast, even up to the night before the race.  Monitor runDisney’s announcements for changes in their alert status.
  • Adjust your race outfit (or costume) to match the weather.  Do not wear long sleeves if the weather is going to be warm and humid.  If it’s borderline, consider short sleeves (I don’t need to specify tech materials and NO COTTON do I?) and removable arm sleeves so you can modify for comfort and safety.  Yes, I know you spent three months putting together the perfect Gaston or Belle outfit, but don’t be afraid to cut off extraneous bits or even put it away for another day if the conditions are going to be tough.  At the Princess Half last year, I ditched several parts of my outfit (arm sleeves and a princess collar) because the conditions weren’t great and I was so happy to be comfortable on my run.  I cringed when I saw people with bright red faces looking miserable in full on long sleeved costumes.  Add a Bondiband (SPARKLE for 10% off) to keep the sweat from pouring down your face while still looking stylish!
  • Hydrate.  Hydrate early and often.  Electrolytes are your friend.  Watered-down Gatorade, Nuun, Cocogo, whatever you like to use.  Stay hydrated in the days before the race!  Be aware of the dangers of too much water during the race, but you’re looking for balance here.
  • Don’t hesitate to stop by the medical tent if you feel dizzy or faint or just need to cool off.  I literally thought I was possibly dying during the Tink Half last year (apparently my hands swell terribly when I exercise in the cold weather and as a Floridian I hadn’t experienced it before!) and I didn’t stop by the medical tent because I was afraid they’d pull me from the race.  Be smarter than me!  No race is worth endangering your health and the medical tents are there to help you!
  • Wear sunscreen.  And maybe a visor or hat.  Especially if you’ll be running after the sun is up (I’m talking to you Dopey and Mickey runners!).  Bodyglide or other lubricant can really help if you’ll be doing a lot of sweating.
  • If the heat and humidity are high (and only you can know what is “high” to you, but remember that humidity has a huge impact on how hot it feels while running), adjust your race plan.  Slow down from the start.  Insert or adjust your walk intervals.  It may not be a PR kind of day, and that’s ok, there will be other races.  This is the most important tip, but the hardest to actually follow!  So tell your ego to hush up and listen to your common sense on this one.

Take care of yourself out there.  Respect your body enough to take care of it.  If you’re used to running in ice and snow, consider the impact of a sudden change to running in heat and humidity and make the adjustments to stay safe and to have a fun race!

I’m linking up with Mickey Monday.  Check out the other links below:

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Comments

runDisney Dangers: Heat and Humidity — 16 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this blog post and these tips which are very timely for me. I’m not involved in Run Disney but will be running my first half marathon in Maui in 2 weeks and am already getting worried about the humidity as it isn’t something I’m used to (and hadn’t really thought about when I planned it!). I think the last tip is going to be key for me – adjusting my pace and expectations. I’d rather walk it all and finish than run it too fast for the conditions and have to pull out with heat exhaustion part way through.
    Gillian Light recently posted…facing fearsMy Profile

    • Thanks, glad it was helpful. Wow, a first half in Maui sounds amazing! Good luck and I hope you have an amazing time!

  2. Great tips April. I also use extra salt on my food race week in Florida because of the heat and humidity. You are correct that there are rarely race weekends with the perfect weather combo. I missed the winter marathon of a few years ago and I guess there was even ice from the water spilling at the aid stations. Crazy right?
    Pam recently posted…Goofy is getting no respectMy Profile

    • Good tip on the extra salt. Since I have borderline high blood pressure, I tend to skimp on the salt but I may need to work more in during the summer when the runs get long. I’m such a running princess, I whine when it gets hot and I get hives (literally) running in the cold! 🙂

  3. These are great tips for any Florida race! I’ll be there in March to run the Sarasota half. Last year I ran the Florida beach halfathon, and the humidity did me in. By mile 4, I was done. I did finish, tho, just a lot slower than I’m used to. Living in Chicago, there is no way to train for those conditions in the winter!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Staying positive in the winterMy Profile

    • I think it’s got to be so much worse for people like you who train in the brutal cold to come and immediately be thrust into our tropical weather in the winter! Good luck on the Sarasota Half! I’m actually heading up to Asheville to run in the cold that month!

  4. Great tips. Always good to remember. With costumes, it’s important to make sure it’s something you can run in, which means give it a practice run. You don’t want to get 2 miles into a half marathon and realize the costumes rubs the wrong way or you can get a full stride.

    The practice run in Florida is good to have too. We got there a couple days early for Marathon Weekend last year one for travel concerns (if we get delayed too much, we can still jump in a car and drive if needed) and to get a good Florida run in. Race day was ok but leading up to it was a chilly spell that I was frankly not overly prepared for.

    And as ginger, I always support remind others to use sunscreen.
    John @ run. geek. run(disney) recently posted…New Balance runDisney 2015 Shoes | Mickey MondayMy Profile

    • Absolutely! I can’t imagine running in some of the costumes I’ve seen which, while cute, look soooooo uncomfortable! I’m a freckled ginger too (my hair did darken as I got older) so sunscreen is a must!!

  5. You’re telling me! I didn’t realize how humid it was last year during the half until I saw my fingers were sausage fingers! I knew I needed salt but never was in a place where I could get it until the post-race food box.
    Lesley recently posted…Monday Musings 1/5My Profile

    • I hate those sausage fingers. I got them during Tink because of the cold weather!

    • Thanks! And while the winter sun isn’t nearly as harsh as the summer sun here, it can still burn you!

  6. I remember how hot and humid it was for the marathon two years ago. I’m really hoping it won’t be like that this year (pretty, pretty please)!

    I think the best weather I’ve ever had was at the 2014 Tower of Terror 10 Miler. Perfect temperature, minimal humidity…completely ideal for this Canadian runner.
    Leana recently posted…Goofy Challenge Tips and TricksMy Profile

    • I regretted not signing up for ToT last year. I hate racing in the heat, which early October usually has, and then when the weather was great AND the race was at least temporarily cancelled, I had to smack myself! I hope they bring it back!