It’s hot outside! Many runners are beginning or are in the midst of training for fall marathons and races, and bringing more miles into training when in the midst of summer heat and humidity can present a challenge to new and experienced athletes alike.
My top four tips to keep the you mind and body fresh as we run through the height of summer heat:
- Run when it’s coolest. Early morning, shaded routes, near rivers or green spaces that can keep temperatures down. Take advantage of the coolest parts of the day to get your running in. If the only time you can run is also when the heat is greatest, consider moving your workout inside to a treadmill, or substitute for swimming or another indoor cross training activity.
- Hydrate! Be sure you’re drinking before, during, and after your workouts, especially the longer efforts critical to marathon training. A good general guideline is to consume 8 ounces of fluid before your run, for each hour during your run, and immediately afterwards. Follow this with good hydration practices throughout the rest of the day, of course! For long runs, carry fluids with you in a hydration backpack or belt designed for running, or run loops/routes where you know water fountains are present, or consider a placing bottles along your route. On especially hot days, drink your pre-run beverage with ice, and consider putting ice in the bottles you will be drinking along the way.
- Cover up! Wear sunscreen for exposed skin. Nobody likes the sting of sweat+sunscreen in your eyes, so try a waterproof sunscreen applied at least 20 minutes prior to leaving to go running. Cover all exposed skin: face, neck, ears, arms, hands, and legs all get a lot of exposure to the sun, and lots of time running in the sun adds serious time to potential skin damage. I love kids mineral sunscreen: that stuff stays on, doesn’t smell weird, and works like magic. Also consider wearing a loose-fitting tshirt of a technical/wicking fabric to keep the sun rays off your shoulders and skin. Avoid cotton clothing, which can become sweat soaked and cause chafing and rubbing. Also remember to wear a ventilated/wicking cap or visor to shade your face, and throw on those sunglasses as well.
- Run by effort, not by the numbers. Forget your set/planned paces when you’re dealing with hot conditions. Go by perceived effort, and remember that every degree of temperature gain means an increased effect on your training and racing paces. So give your pace a break, and know hard intervals are still hard, even if you’re pace is slower due to heat stress.
While training in the heat does require you to adjust your paces from ideal conditions, some research suggests that training in the heat can have some serious training benefits, if done carefully and correctly. The key here is to be cautious when working bring heat acclimation into the game, and remember that no workout or race is worth endangering your health or the health of your training partners.
Most importantly: Have fun with your training! It’s summertime, afterall, adn though the heat can seem like a drag at times, remember to enjoy these gloriously long, light-filled days. Enjoy the iced coffee post-run fuel, the minimal running clothes laundry, the outdoor pool cross training days! Bring the family out, meet friends for a special trail exploration run, enjoy the lushness of summer while it lasts.
Before long, fall races will be upon us, so enjoy the training benefits and fun of summer running!