Whether you are planning on lacing up for the local 4th of July 5K, or have your sights set on a more distant fall race, training in the heat can be difficult. It can also leave the woefully unprepared feeling lethargic for the rest of the day. A little bit of preparation, and perhaps some guidance with these 5 simple tips can help you survive training during the dog days of summer.
Try to get your run in before the sun is too high in the sky, or after it starts to go down. If you cannot regularly log early or late miles, at least aim to do so on key workout days. You’ll be able to run a little more efficiently when you are not battling the midday sun. As a bonus, you will also minimize dangerous UV exposure. If you cannot avoid the midday runs, try to get off the asphalt or concrete and find some shade in order to stay a couple of degrees cooler.
Hydrate, then hydrate more.
Whether you are logging pre-dawn miles or lunch miles, make sure you hydrate throughout the day as well as during your run. Be sure to replace electrolytes that are lost through your sweat as well. If you are running more than an hour in the heat you may want to consider adding electrolyte tabs such as Hammer Fizz, or Nuun to your water. To squeeze in extra hydration during the day, try carrying a water bottle at work, and drink a glass of water as you start getting ready for your run.
Take it easy.
As the temperature rises it requires more effort to run the same pace that you easily have been running all winter. You are not imagining it, and you are not losing fitness. In the summer, when the difference between you (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and the outside temperature is small, your heart is already working hard to drive evaporative cooling mechanisms. So when you start running, you’ll hit your aerobic heart rate zone at a pace that may be slower than what you would normally experience. Listen to your body, and slow down! As a benefit, you might notice some trail critters or other details that you regularly overlook at your normal trail blazing speed.
Dress for success.
Choose lightweight, light colored, and loose fitting fabrics that will not trap the heat your body is trying to expel. Many top running apparel brands sell fabrics that are actually engineered to keep you slightly cooler in the summer sun. Don’t forget to wear a hat, sunscreen, and body lubricant to prevent chafing once the sweating starts.
Take care of your feet!
Painful blisters will end your summer running before it even gets started. Choosing the right fabric of sock is just as important as the right singlet. Taking a lesson from thru hikers and backpackers, I suggest Merino wool running socks for the hottest and longest days. Merino wool is one of the most efficient fabrics for temperature regulation and will do the best job of keeping your feet from getting soggy on a hot and muggy long run. If you don’t trust me on the Merino route, at least stay with a thin, high quality blended running sock and run from 100% cotton socks.
A smart approach to running in the heat will keep you logging miles all summer long and will pay dividends once the cooler fall temps arrive. See you on the trails!