Fitness: 5 tips for training in the heat

This guy will make your outdoor training a little tougher in the summer. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

This guy will make your outdoor training a little tougher in the summer. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

When I looked at the forecast, all I saw was “hot.”

We’ve had a pretty mild summer thus far in Oklahoma, way different from the past two years where we spent the better part of the season above 100 degrees, topping out at 114 (my hottest run was at 111). Not so much this year. Until this week.

Wednesday’s high: 102. The dog days are here, and will be for at least another 8 weeks.

From a training perspective, I look at it two ways: dread it or embrace the challenge.

I’m two weeks in to marathon training, and there is no getting away from logging more and more miles outside. I’m also a night shift worker, so those pre-dawn runs are out. That means tackling my training at, well, less than optimal times.

But I also believe that training in harsh conditions can give you an extra gear of toughness that training in favorable conditions cannot. So I planned out my post-lift run (a mere 5 miles) and looked forward to staring down the 97-degree temperature reading at the time. I will not be stopped!

The first half of the run went fine. The back half was tough. Even a little brutal. But it got done.

It did get me to thinking of a few things I’ve learned about training in the heat. So for what it’s worth, here goes:

1. Hydrate. A lot. Before you go to bed, drink some water. When you get up, drink some more. And throughout the day running up to your workout, be drinking more water. Bring some with you (hand-held water bottle, hip belt or hydration pack) or be sure your route has drinking fountains available. Don’t wait till you crash to stop for a water break. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are no joke. Is a gallon a day excessive? Not if it’s summer and you’re outside training.

2. Shade your face. A ball cap will help you keep a little shade on your face and direct sun off your head. If it’s a moisture-wicking cap, it will help you stay cool.

3. If you can, pick routes with trees. I love trail running, and many of my trails are in wooded areas. You’ll lose the breeze in the woods, but the shade will help keep you cooler.

4. Pace yourself. Your body will not be able to maintain the same intensity at 98 degrees as it does at 78 degrees. But you will still be working hard, and that’s what you’re going for — putting in some hard work. Which leads me to the next point…

5. Watch your heart rate. Whether it’s just listening to your body or wearing a heart-rate monitor, those beats-per-minute will be very telling in terms of how hard your body is working. In the winter, you burn more calories because your body is trying hard to keep your core temperature up. But in the summer, it’s fighting — and losing — the battle to keep you cool. If your pulse is pounding in your temples at 180 bpm or more, maybe it’s time to slow down and walk a couple of blocks. No shame in that.

Those are a few ideas from me. What about you? Share your hot-weather training tips in the comments. I’d love to get some input.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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5 thoughts on “Fitness: 5 tips for training in the heat

  1. This came with perfect timing for me. My husband and I are also training for a marathon and our schedules just don’t allow our long weekend runs to happen anytime except between about noon and 7pm. We do try to go after dinner, but in NC, it’s still about 90 degrees at that point. I think your #4 tip is the one I really needed to be reminded of – as long as the work is hard, it doesn’t matter so much if our pace slips a bit. Thanks!

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