It wasn’t long ago that I was wondering when Spring would arrive. I’m pretty sure we got snow right up until the last day of Winter. Now, we’re a week away from summer and summer has shown up early. With a vengeance. I typically start my days with a run around 6am. Each day this week, when I step out that door, it is already above 20C (70F) and feels well above 25C (77F). Are. You. Kidding. Me? This is the coldest part of the day? Unreal.
Ok, so some of you from places like Phoenix or Houston are rolling your eyes and wondering why I’m not wearing a sweater in those temperatures. To you I say, shhhhhhuuuutttt it. I grew up in these parts, so heat and humidity are not foreign to me, but that does NOT mean I have to like it. I still probably prefer it over cold and snow, but snow beard pics are kinda cool too.
Summer has arrived and it’s hot. I know this is a heat wave and we will get this on and off throughout the next few months, but navigating running in these temperatures is important. It can be very dangerous if you don’t take care of yourself. I have been out there anywhere from 35-45 minutes this week and each time I come back having lost 3lbs (and yes, I weighed myself before and after).
Honestly, I don’t feel like the heat affects me too much while I’m out there. I have yet to think to myself, “This is too hot, I can’t handle this heat, I need to stop.” However, confession time, I sweat. A lot. When I did the Youngstown Marathon a couple weeks ago, it was overcast and breezy. Yes, it was like 70F, but it’s not like the sun was beaming down on me. When I finished the race, I looked like I had jumped into a pool. A pool that had also taken 10lbs off of me.
Needless to say, the heat is affecting me while I run. And whether I feel it or not, it’s affecting my performance. I might be able to endure it on shorter distances, but in half marathons and marathons, the results will reflect the conditions. For those running or racing in these warmer temps, here’s a few quick tips from your old pal Jeph:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – I probably shouldn’t have to point this out, but I’m going to anyways, beer is not hydrating. There, I said it. Now that we have that out of the way, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated throughout your day, and during your run. You need water and electrolytes to replenish all the sweat you will be losing. You need to drink more than you lose.
- Adjust your pace – Yes, we all want to run fast. Yes, we all want to feel like we’re improving. Yes, we all hate “trusting the process”. Let’s be honest, so much of training is based on effort, and not just on times. I can work really hard for a 23 minute 5k if it’s really windy, or if it’s really hot. Other days, I could do a 5k faster than that and not feel challenged. There are so many variables beyond just time. You’re still getting the work done, but if you try and push it too hard, you can find yourself in an unfortunate situation.
- Learn to use an alarm clock – I get it, some people start work at 4am, and so running before that isn’t necessarily desired, or safe. But you’re probably not one of those people. You just don’t like getting up early (sorry if you’re one of those people, I’m not talking to you then). Whether it’s early in the morning, or later in the evening, it’s better to find times before the day gets too hot. If you can’t avoid it, try and find a route with a lot of trees where you won’t be in direct sunlight the entire time. Running through your neighbours lawns when they have the sprinklers on is also encouraged.
Side note, weighing yourself before and after a run, taking into account how much you drank as well, will help you determine how much fluid you lost during a run and therefore help you determine how much you need to drink to replenish those fluids. Like I said earlier, we need to drink about 1.5x what we lost, and we need to do it within 2 hours of finishing our workouts.
There are plenty of stories of hot race days and how it throws many runners for a loop. You can train smart in the heat, taking care of yourself, and it can aid you no matter what mother nature throws at you on race day.
What other tips do YOU have for running in the heat?