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Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 09:09 am

Do it right in the dog days of summer

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I love that clip from Will Ferrell's film Anchorman, and it fits tangentially into today's post. Summer in the Midwest is a time of wretched, smothering humidity and baking heat, the combination of which usually makes you sweat without exerting any effort. If you dare to move around while outside in this sweltering stew, you take on some very real health risks. These risks should not be ignored, but they are completely manageable. With the State Fair right around the corner, we've got the two-mile Parade Run this afternooon (Get registered!) and the 6-mile (10k) Abe's Amble on Aug. 22 (Get registered!). It will be in the mid-90s today during the Parade Run, so anyone planning to run it would be well-advised to prepare. Here's a quick list of things you can do to make sure you cross the finish line on your feet instead of on a stretcher.

1) Dress for success. Just like any other area of life, running has a certain wardrobe. That stinky, pit-stained old cotton T-shirt you wear to the gym may be your favorite, but if you wear it while running in 90-degree weather, you might as well be wearing a garbage bag. You will become drenched in sweat, and the cotton will hold onto the moisture for hours. Instead, wear one of those newfangled mesh running shirts that wick away sweat like a personal towel boy. They're lighter than cotton, less prone to stretching, more breathable, and allow faster evaporation of sweat. Plus, they make you look like you really know what you're doing, so you can act all nonchalant when someone comments on your race attire. "Yeah, I run so much I had to get a special shirt...it's no big deal."

2) Baste yourself like a turkey. One of the benefits of running outside is getting a sweet tan that lets everyone know how active and "with it" you are. But when that sun is raining down fire with all the intensity of the Roman army in Western Europe, you're going to want a few tribes of Scotsmen to beat back the UV rays. Okay, that was a bad metaphor. Just wear sunscreen.

 3) Go all Niagara on yourself. I can't state this enough: Drinking enough water is absolutely imperative. Dehydration can drop you like a bare-knuckle boxer, and a poorly-watered person can experience tiredness, headaches, dizziness, rapid heart rate and even constipation - none of which is helpful while running. Luckily, it's easy to prevent. Just drink plenty of water. Don't wait until you're thirsty. Do it now. Seriously. Get up and grab a bottle, glass, mug or shiny metal canister of water. I'll wait. Slurp it down. All of it. Now do that about 10 more times throughout the day. Be sure to drink during and after the race as well. Bonus: Drinking lots of water can also help curb appetite, since the body sometimes confuses thirst with hunger.

 4) Bring your Siamese twin. Running with a partner not only offers motivation and support, but it gives you a safety net in case you start feeling double plus ungood. You can always hope a stranger notices when you collapse in an exhausted heap, but a good friend and running buddy will likely see warning signs of heat stroke or other heat-related maladies before you pass out. That's what friends are for - picking up your gross, sweaty body, hoisting you onto their back and finishing the race in record time. Okay, that might be a tad unrealistic, but it would be pretty cool. If your running buddy does that, you at least owe them your first-born child. (A second or third child is acceptable if you're only work friends.)

That's all I've got. Anyone else have any good tips? Leave a comment below or email me at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com. Have a great day and a great run!

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