For many people, running in hot weather is a dreaded reality of summer. For me, I say bring it on! I tend to thrive in the heat, which means for 9 months out of the year I question why I continue to live in Wisconsin. (For the record, it is because I have separation issues and I could never live without being close to my entire family. I am working on getting everyone to move to the Caribbean together, where we will all live happily ever after.) Enduring the long, bleak, cold Wisconsin winter does in fact make summer that much sweeter, but I feel like I could live somewhere that is warm year round and still appreciate it.
Last night when I got home from work, it was 86 degrees and humid, and I was ready to run. I wasn’t sure how my pace would be since my body is not exactly acclimated to the heat yet, but I was excited to get out there. The first half-mile or so my legs felt like lead, which I blamed on my 2-hour bike ride the day before. After that, I started moving. I never really felt like I was running fast, but surprisingly I was, clocking most miles out of the 7.5 that I ran between 7:09-7:45 pace. I’ll admit the heat got to me a little towards the end, not to mention the strong headwinds at the lakefront. When I got home I pretended that I felt like this:
When I really felt more like this:
Welcome back oh glorious dripping sweat and beat red face. I have missed thee.
This brings me to some tips for managing the heat during exercise.
1. Take it slow. Obviously, I did not do this yesterday because I was feeling good, but in general it takes about two weeks for your body to adapt to the heat. During that time, don’t be afraid to dial back the pace and intensity until your body tells you it’s ok to crank it. Run by effort level instead of time or pace.
2. Run early in the morning. This is a no-brainer, as it is usually cooler first thing in the morning.
3. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Your body is going to require more water before, during, and after exercise to deal with your increased sweat rate. I am lucky that my regular running route passes by several drinking fountains. For longer runs and races, I carry a water bottle, like in the 50k trail race I ran last year. Also, if you are running longer than 90 mins, sports drink is crucial to replace those electrolytes.
4. Wear the right gear. I don’t think anyone really runs in cotton anymore, but in the heat it is especially important to wear moisture-wicking clothing. I also like to wear a light mesh hat to absorb sweat and block some sun, as well as sunglasses.
5. Know your limits. Even though I love the heat, I doubt I would dare to run outside if it was 95 degrees and humid at high noon. If you can’t get out early enough on a super-hot day, there’s nothing wrong with taking your workout inside and enjoying the air conditioning. This applies especially to tempo and speed work days. It does you no good to end up with heat stroke.
Did I miss anything? Please share some of your hot-weather workout tips!