While summer is a welcome respite from the bitter cold and snow of winter for many, it can also be tough to train through, especially at first. Those of us who live in warmer weather year round are forced to basically run in a blast furnace (that is somehow also extremely humid), and motivation to run can hit rock bottom. Read on for top tips for how to beat the heat this summer.
- Acclimate, acclimate, acclimate: The first step in acclimating to the heat is believing that acclimation is possible. While the struggle is real and running the heat is certainly different than running in cool or cold weather, you have to believe that your running will improve. So head out the door with a positive attitude, and then try this: go for several short workouts throughout the day at different temperatures. It’s likely to be cooler in the morning, but also more humid, so go for a quick run or walk in those conditions. Then, head out at lunch time (which is still not the hottest part of the day in the summer in most places) for a short walk on your lunch break. If you have the time when you get home from work, try doing your final (and shortest) run of the day during this time. These don’t have to be long efforts – even a mile or two will make a difference! Try this a couple of times a week. Bonus: it also breaks up your workouts into more manageable segments and can help avoid dehydration from longer workouts.
- Invest in some high-tech gear: You don’t have to go it alone. There are tons of great products out there that are not only moisture-wicking – they also help hydrate your body with specific cooling fabrics and technologies that help you run harder for longer. Check out these cooling hydration sleeves and shorts from Qore Performance, or this hat from Mission Athletecare
- Stick ice down your shirt (or pants, or hat): Sometimes, the simplest solution is one of the most effective. What feels better than ice on a hot day? If you’re doing a long run, consider packing a small cooler full of ice and placing it either at your car (if you’ll be circling past it a few times) or out somewhere along the course. Sticking a few ice cubes down your sports bra, in the front of your shorts, or inside your hat might sound strange, but it is extremely effective for helping cool your core temperature. Hey, you’re already wet from sweat anyway, right? Might as well make it worthwhile! (In the interest of full disclosure, I thought one of my running buddies was insane when I saw him do this on a long run in August a few years ago. Then I tried it, and now, I’m an ice convert for life!)
- Make hydration a priority throughout the day: It’s not enough just to hydrate every couple of miles on your run and expect that to be sufficient. In the summer, it’s even more imperative that you hydrate throughout the day to avoid dehydration while working out. You’ll increase your body’s ability to cool itself and help replace some of gallons of sweat you’ve undoubtedly got pouring off of you. Even if you’re not great about getting in the recommended amount of water (typically, 8-10 glasses per day for an average adult), try to increase your consumption by just a glass or two and see if you notice a difference.
- Consider training by heart rate: If you’ve tried all of this stuff and still aren’t finding your summer running mojo, consider training by heart rate instead of by pace. It can be frustrating to watch your paces slow in the summer due to the heat and humidity when you’re working at the same effort level, but the reality is that high temperatures have an impact on our performances. This article from Runner’s World can help you calculate your heart rate zones for different levels of effort. When testing it out, you might just be surprised to discover that you’re running your “easy” runs too fast! Heart rate training can take a bit of time to master, but it’s a worth a try, especially if it pumps up your motivation to get out there during the dog days of summer. Give it a try! It definitely made summer running a lot more enjoyable for me last year.