After marathon runners complete the race, they typically cover themselves in a shiny foil blanket. This blanket isn’t there just to be flashy, it actually has a practical use. So why do runners get shiny foil blankets after a race?
Runners get shiny foil blankets after a race because their body temperatures plummet once they stop moving. During the race, they sweat intensely in order to stay cool, and this continues after the race is over. The thermal foil blankets reflect the wearer’s body heat back onto them, helping to maintain body temperature and avoid post-race shivers.
Keep reading to learn about why runners get shiny foil blankets after a race.
Why do runners get shiny foil blankets after a race or marathon event?
You’ll often see serious and competitive racers wrapped up like a last night’s leftovers at their marathon events, but why are shiny foil blankets wrapped around runners after a race?
Runners get a foil blanket after a marathon to retain body heat after they suddenly stop moving. The near-instant switch from intense speed to basically still means the body is continuing to try and cool the runner off even though the runner is no longer nearly as hot.
People produce plenty of sweat when they run, and the outside weather can make runners feel unnaturally cold once their workout is complete.
While your sweat acts as an effective cooling mechanism during your run, it can be overkill after you complete the race. In addition, most marathons occur outdoors, so the windchill can make runners feel uncomfortable after they stop moving.
When you exercise outside during cold weather, you also put yourself at a higher risk of developing hypothermia. These shiny foil blankets are known as thermal blankets, or colloquially: space blankets. Space blankets are an excellent way to combat this issue because they’re easy to transport and retain 90% of your body heat.
You won’t see runners wearing these thermal space blankets during exercise because their body heat remains consistent during regular activity. However, as soon as they stop moving, their body heat plummets when they’re outside.
Using a thermal blanket after your run is the best way to regulate your body temperature. If you don’t keep a thermal blanket with you, you can get cold due to the sweat on your body and the blood flow restriction. These blankets are better than fabric material because they won’t make you overheat.
Why do runners get cold after a race?
Runners get cold after a race because they’re covered in sweat and not experiencing as much blood flow as they did while they were active.
After you run, your body can experience a huge temperature change because you suddenly stopped your aerobic activity. The breeze can hit your sweat and make you colder than normal. This experience is often called “running chills” because it’s such a common phenomenon after a race.
People who run outside are even more likely to get cold after a race, and many organizations hold races outdoors if the weather is acceptable.
Runners also experienced vasoconstriction after they completed a race due to the sharp change in activity. When your blood vessels narrow, it’s difficult for blood to get through the body and keep you warm. Fortunately, this is a temporary occurrence and will go away after your body gets used to its resting state.
All of these contribute to the existence of foil blankets for runners. Race officials recognized the danger of sweaty, post-race runners experiencing a plummet in body temperature and decided to act. These heat sheets for runners help ensure everyone is able to regulate their body temperature after a race.
How do thermal foil blankets work?
Space blankets are made with a keen understanding of the human body and provide an ingenious solution to getting your body more heat when its temperature drops below safe levels.
Thermal space blankets use their aluminum reflective surface to trap your body heat. This makes the air around your body more humid, thus preventing the evaporation of sweat on the skin.
You may think they’re called space blankets because they’re silver, but they actually get this name because NASA developed them.
So what are space blankets made of and for what purpose did NASA use them? NASA developed these blankets to protect astronauts from extreme temperature conditions in space. They’re made of aluminum foil because of aluminum’s ability to reflect heat. Though they were originally only designed for space flight, they were deemed so effective and practical that these blankets are used for emergency situations and after races now.
Aside from using them after a marathon, you’ll also find these blankets in first aid kits. In addition, people use thermal blankets to stay warm during car accidents, camping, in any other situation where you’re limited on supplies.
Why are thermal blankets silver?
Thermal blankets are not silver as a design choice.
These blankets are silver to reflect the heat from your body back onto yourself. It is the best way to retain heat without packing on layers of fabric or metal.
The purpose of emergency blankets is to keep your body heat trapped so you stay warm. Your body is a fantastic heat regulator, so you don’t give yourself too much or too little warmth. If you get too warm after a run, you can cause heatstroke, and if you don’t stay warm enough, you’re prone to hypothermia.
You must be careful about treating yourself after an intense exercise like a race. That’s why you should rely on something that you trap your body heat instead of a heavy-duty blanket. Trapping your body heat is the best way to minimize the temperature change you experience after racing outside.
Is using foil blankets effective for trapping heat?
Thermal blankets keep your body heat trapped after you complete your run.
Because of their effectiveness, you won’t notice a stark temperature change or chills if you use a foil blanket after your race. You should also try this method if you like to run outside regularly.
Another massive benefit of using these blankets after a run is that they’re lightweight and easy to carry. You can easily tuck this blanket into your running bag without taking up much space. Thanks to its lightweight design, you can keep it around your shoulders without feeling uncomfortable.
Also, you can reuse these blankets as often as you want to help protect the environment. Many people are under the impression that these blankets are single-use only, but this is not the case. If you don’t rip this blanket, you can use it as often as you desire and bring it to every running track you attend.
How much do space blankets cost?
You can purchase space blankets online with ease. Costs range from $8-10 for a pack of 4 to 5 blankets.
Why do they hand out foil blankets for marathon runners?
Foil blankets help runners trap heat to their bodies after a race. This helps them avoid the “runner’s chills,” a common but dangerous post-race symptom.
What are additional uses for marathon foil blankets?
Foil blankets can be used in a camping our outdoors setting. They’re also commonly used in disaster relief situations to help victims of natural disasters retain body heat and to prevent hypothermia.
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Joshua Bartlett is a professional amateur when it comes to running – basically, he takes his mediocre running ability very seriously.
As the Editor-in-Chief at Saltmarsh Running, it is his job to make sure that readers get only highly-researched and comprehensive questions to all of their running questions.