Yesterday I went out for my weekly Wednesday 5-mile run. When I left the gym, it was sunny, breezy, and 90 degrees. May is sort of the unofficial start of the summer sweaty season for me, when hot showers go away and some really tough outdoor training begins. It will likely persist through mid-October where I live.
I’m not a hot-weather runner, and the last couple of miles of yesterday’s run were miserable. I’m not acclimated for the heat yet, and frankly, I wasn’t ready for it. My bad.
But hot weather training has its merits – it builds toughness and will pay off in terms of overall conditioning. Running in the heat taxes your heart and lungs in unpleasant ways, but if you do it right, it will pay off when the temperatures cool down.
That said, training in the heat does you no good if you end up getting sick or worse from heat exposure. So this Sun Belt guy has a few ideas on this subject.
So here are six tips for training in the heat:
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
This week, I did well on these except for the hydration part, and I paid for it. Guess I should follow my own advice! Enjoy your time out there.