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July 8, 2017

How to run in extreme conditions

Los Angeles is in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave, with temperatures in some parts of Southern California soaring as high as 122 degrees. That’s hot. Hot enough that officials have issued warnings for elderly, infants and people that work outdoors, stating they’re running the risk of heat-related illnesses just by being outside and suggest that most people stay indoors.

As runners, however, learning to deal with inclement weather is part of your job. As the temperature of our sad little planet continues to rise, things like superstorms and extreme heat or cold will become commonplace. That means acclimating to these formidable conditions is a must (I’m writing this in the wake of one of the hottest U.S. Championships on record. Get busy livin’ or get busy DNF’ing).

This, of course, takes practice. But if you’ve failed to prepare yourself, then there’s always taking the advice of strangers on the internet. That’s why I’ve come up with a nifty little guide on how to deal with some of mother nature’s nastiest weather.

Absolute Zero

When the temperature reaches absolute zero, theory goes that particles will cease to move. I barely graduated college, but if I remember correctly, the movement of particles is what gives something heat? Anyway, if particles aren’t moving, suffice it to say that it’s frozen solid.

A forecast of absolute zero would be pretty formidable. You’re going to want to get in a longer warm up than normal, probably throw on a few extra layers, and try not to shatter into a million frozen shards.

Red Giant Sun

As the sun continues to expand it will eventually engulf the earth. This will cause the oceans to evaporate and the skin to peel from your flesh (probably). If you’re not phased by this, then please remember the other hazards of running in extreme heat: it’s likely that the earth’s crust will be destroyed and you’ll have to avoid things like icebergs of refractory materials floating in magma.

So please don’t forget to mark your calendars for a couple billion years from now, because you’ll want to remember to stay hydrated, use plenty of sunblock, and wear light, breathable materials. I may even give you a pass to run without a shirt on.


If you’ve ever seen the blockbuster hit Twister, you understand the devastating impact of tornadoes, as well as Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton’s onscreen chemistry. These things are no joke. As anyone who grew up in the midwest can attest, hearing the blast of a tornado siren as the air outside your windows turns green has a pants-shitting effect. But this alone can not stop you from getting in your miles.

The internet says a 120mph wind will blow your hat off and cause you to tumble down the street. Winds only reach that speed at an F2 tornado or higher rating, so F2 or below I’d say you’re probably okay to run. Anything higher, try finding a tall friend that you can tuck in behind and perhaps throw on some ankle weights to keep you grounded.

Since we’re talking about wind, I’d like to take a minute to revisit the Red Giant scenario above. When water temperature reaches 50°C (122°F) or higher, an intense tropical storm known as a “hypercane” can form. Due to the higher-than-normal water temperatures during the storms formation, the hurricane would be capable of winds of up to 500mph. Since these kinds of storms will be commonplace on an earth being swallowed by the sun, you can’t let this deter you–and thanks to some bizarre military test from the 40s, it’s been shown that winds that high won’t kill you. No excuses!

Nuclear Fallout

Since we’ve started pumping carbon into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates, we are no strangers to acid rain. But other than turning limestone and marble (materials reserved for the fanciest of dogs) into dust, there’s no reason for anything over the top when prepping for a little lower pH in your rainwater.

That brings us to the more terrifying form of rain. That’s right, I’m talking about radioactive rain or NUCLEAR FALLOUT. In the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, radioactive dust and ash is propelled high into the atmosphere. This stuff can turn into a pyrocummulus cloud and eventually fall as black rain. As you could probably guess, this dark, sticky, radioactive water can give you radiation poisoning.

Black rain, however, is not an excuse to skip your run for the day, nor is it an excuse to spend your time on a treadmill, the second worst running surface. Getting your mileage in is as easy as slipping into your HAZMAT suit and putting one foot in front of the other. I can hear you saying, “but I don’t have a HAZMAT suit.” Well, buddy, at the rate we’re going, you should probably get one.

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