Running in the Heat

Running in the Heat

The cooler temperatures of Spring are gone and Summer has officially arrived. It’s hot and humid out there, with feel-like temps getting up to 101 degrees! Here in the Sunshine State, the humidity has greeted us with it’s harsh conditions in the last few weeks. This means that as runners we need to take extra precautions to ensure our runs go as smoothly as possible.

Despite having trained in these extremely hot conditions regularly, I made a mistake on my run this morning. It was 81 degrees with a real-feel temp of 96 degrees (who knows what the heat index was). I was feeling pretty good, and made the mistake of going out too fast and then increasing my pace in the last mile and a half of the run. It was in that last half of a mile that I felt off. I felt weak and tingly. My chest just didn’t feel right, almost had a tightening feel to it. As soon as I returned to the school where we begin and end our Tuesday runs, I immediately had to sit down. I knew I wasn’t feeling right and thankfully, I had my training group there to help. They got me water and ice and poured water over me. 10 minutes or so later, I was a lot better. Goes to show that even when we think we are okay and consistently training, thinking we know what we are doing, we can still overdo it. Running in the heat is no joke, it is hard on our bodies.

This made me realize how important it is to remind ourselves about training in the heat. These harsh conditions during the hotter months this time of year require us to be aware of things we need to be doing to make our summer runs better. Getting heat illness and other heat-related conditions like dehydration can easily be avoided if we plan ahead and learn what to keep an eye on during our training.

Heat index during my run

1. Hydration. We MUST be staying well-hydrated during the hotter months of the year. It’s especially critical when it’s hot and humid outside. While we all have different needs for water intake (as well as other aids like PowerAde or Nuun electrolyte replenishment), a good rule of thumb is to be drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day. That tends to be the bare minimum and tends to be more in the summer. There are tools online to help figure out what your intake should be compared to how you sweat. As to hydration during your training, Jeff Galloway recommends we drink about 4-6oz of water every 20 minutes during a run.

2. Pace Adjustment. In the heat, we need to slow down our pace because our bodies have to work harder in the extreme temperatures. Per Jeff Galloway, he states we should slow down 30 seconds a mile for every 5F increase above 60F. We will end up losing performance time if we don’t slow down and risk pushing too hard on a run. Our muscles just aren’t as efficient in the hotter temps.

3. Run early. Whenever possible, get your runs done (or mostly done if long) before the sun comes up. While it’s still humid out, it is still cooler than when the sun comes out. Avoid running between 12pm – 3pm which is when the weather is usually at it’s peak where the heat is concerned. If you can’t run in the morning, run late in the day, in the evening hours when it will be cooling back down.

4. Protect yourself. Wear wicking/technical fabrics, dressing lightly as possible with loose-fitting clothing. Visors, but not hats, as you need to allow the top of your head to stay cool. And wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the rays.

5. Stay cool. Carrying a towel that you can continuously wet helps a lot in the heat. A hand-towel works well, but there are towels out there that get cold once you get them wet which really helps. Our running group program director puts out iced towels for us on long-run Saturdays and let me tell you, they are heaven when you are hot and sweaty. Also, ice pops are awesome during summer training.

Do you have any tips to share for running in the heat?


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