Eastern Wake News

Physical therapist, runner Leslie Pollard’s tips for keeping cool


For those who are tempted to use the blistering heat as an excuse to avoid exercise or training for that 5K you vowed to run in the fall, there are tricks to avoid both a heat stroke on the road and becoming a sofa spud.

Leslie Pollard, a physical therapist by day and runner by night, has been running since middle school. She ran cross-country in high school, setting records, and continued to compete at UNC-Greensboro on scholarship, where she recorded her personal best 5K time of 18:24.

Now, with five kids in tow, including 8-year-old quadruplets, she still finds time to stay fit and head up the Wendell Running Club through Wendell Parks and Recreation with her husband, Jeff.

She offers some tips for beating the heat.

Q: What is your best advice for running in the heat?

A: You have to be very picky about the time of day that you’re running. A lot of people think you need to be running in the morning, but you might need to wait until parts of the evening because the humidity is less. The temperature might be cooler in the morning, but look at the humidity.

I do a lot of running on trails and areas where it is going to be shady. I try to stay hydrated all the time, not just right before I’m going to run. For longer runs, take water with you.

Wear light-colored clothes, clothes that are breathable. I see people out running wearing sweatpants – that’s a good way to get yourself a heat stroke and heat exhaustion and everything else.

Q: When running or training in the summer, is there anything special you should eat or drink?

A: Generally, I don’t take in any fuel during the run unless it’s more than an hour. In the summer, I take water with me for any run longer than 45 minutes to be on safe side.

Before runs, I carry water with me all the time and take sips here and there. Some people weigh themselves before and after a run, and depending on how many pounds they lose during a run, they measure how many ounces they should drink – I’m never that technical, I just drink water as I feel like it.

Q: What do you find is the best time of day during the peak of summer?

A: I would look at the daily forecast. When are temps the lowest but when is the humidity going to be the lowest. My husband Jeff always runs at 8:30 or 9 a.m., but says it’s very humid. If your schedule allows, running at 7:30 or 8 at night the humidity might be less.

Q: Any specific advice if you’re training for a half or full marathon?

A: If you have access to a treadmill, take advantage of it during periods like this (high temperatures). Treadmill running is fine, it doesn’t quite mimic running on roads, but it’s great for times like this so you don’t suffer during weeks like this.

If you feel out there and queasy, it would be smarter to adjust your training instead of saying “I have to hit these miles no matter what.” You can always push it back a week just to be safe.

Q: Any ideas for cross-training in the summer?

A: If you have a certain amount of mileage that you want to hit this week, instead of saying, “OK, I want to do 10 miles outside, but it would drive me insane to do 10 miles on a treadmill,” do five miles on the treadmill and do five miles of jogging in the water, biking or the elliptical. You’re still getting cardiovascular fitness and not killing yourself.

Q: If people are interested in accountability or social running, how can they get involved with the Wendell Running Club?

A: We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Wendell Park near the tennis courts. We run around 3 to 3.5 miles. It’s kind of nice because we’ll run together even if people that show up with different paces, we will adjust so that we’ll run together, or loop back and gather everyone back up.

It’s definitely for any age, I have taken my kids out there several times, you don’t have to be some super fit person, you can start now.

We usually run through downtown Wendell. We don’t want anyone to get confused or lost. Or in a trail at the park to stay in the shade. For a while we were running on Saturday mornings to do longer runs, like 5-6 miles.

We would love to have more people out there.

To get involved, contact Wendell Parks and Recreation at 919-366-2266 or kconnolly@townofwendell.com.