Summer is coming: Six tips for training in the heat

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Summer is coming. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Don’t look now, but summer is just a little over a month away. Temperatures are already rising toward summer levels in some parts of the world. I’ve definitely noticed it on my runs, and have not acclimated yet.

Summer is a convenient time to shut it down for some people, particularly if you live in a Sunbelt state like me. It’s far easier to back off when it gets hot. But if you’re training for fall races, that’s just not possible. You’ve got to get out there and put in the work.

But higher temps hare hard on the body, and if you’re not careful bad things can happen if you push too hard. Summer will definitely push back.

So here are six tips for training in the heat:

  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 some of 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 or 58 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.
  6. And finally, and this might go without saying, pick a cooler time of day to run. This means running pre-dawn or after sunset during the summer, but those hours will be cooler and easier to manage.

So those are some ideas. Got any of your own? Feel free to share in the comments.

Bob Doucette

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