August 1, 2010

Doug Hawley: Run early or late to beat brutal heat

I get this question all the time in regards to running: “Do you run on these hot days?” The answer is easy: yes.

Sure, running in the middle of the day can be hazardous to one’s health. You have the heat and high humidity to contend with at the worst possible time of the day.

My favorite time to run is early morning — often times while still dark. You will find it humid but much more comfortable with temperatures 20 or so degrees cooler.

Most fitness experts will urge you to run at this time for safety and comfort concerns..

If unable to make the early morning run, go as late in the evening as you can. Granted, the temperature will be higher and the mugginess is tough to deal with.

My main heat concern for athletes over the years has been the football players. They too often have worked in full gear in the heat of the day.

Those players, like the runners, need to stay hydrated with liquids — whether by water or the popular sports drinks.

As runners prepare for the first Dalton Half Marathon scheduled on Oct. 16, they would do well to consider running some shorter road races before that event.

This can break the monotony of the training runs and provide a better sharpness for race day.

There are several quality Saturday morning races not more than one hour’s drive time from Dalton that can serve the purpose.

First up on the recommended list is the Missionary Ridge race in Chattanooga on Aug. 14. This rare 4.7-mile distance provides rolling terrain in a beautiful area.

Numerous area runners have competed for the past several years in memory of the late John Bruner, a Dalton High graduate, who died of a heart anomaly during that race on Aug. 4, 2007.

One week later, Rome hosts the Clocktower 5-K race (3.1 miles). It starts and ends at Barron Stadium, home of the Rome Wolves’ football team. A short, steep hill goes past the famous Clocktower.

This also serves as a memorial race in honor of Gary Tilllman, a former Georgia Bulldogs runner.

On Labor Day (Sept. 6), Chattanooga State will be the scene of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes 5-K race. This flat, fast course attracts many high school runners who use it as a debut for their cross country seasons.

Eton in Murray County will be the focus Sept. 25 of the Eton Country Fair 4-miler. The Old Wishing Well provides the setting. This race for the past several years has served as Georgia’s only certified 4-mile course.

On Oct. 2, you can travel south for the Cartersville 10-K race. This event is sponsored by the Atlanta Track Club. The 6.2-mile race serves as a good tuneup for the Dalton Half Marathon two weeks later.

You can check the web sites for the times and course sites for the previously mentioned races.

You might also find some other preferred races.

Two monthly races are recommended. You can stay enthusiastic and head toward your half marathon goals at the same time.

Happy running as you stay cool to the best of your ability.


This is the sixth in a 16-part instructional series as runners prepare for the Dalton Half Marathon scheduled Oct. 16. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, was a five-time top 10 percent finisher in the Boston Marathon from 1976 to 1981. You can write him at

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