Running Hot: 5 Ways to Beat the Heat
By Mary Malone - Oiselle Team runner from Saint Petersburg, FL.
One of the first things anyone ever said to me when I moved to Florida was “don’t worry, you’ll get used to the summer heat.”
Friends, I am here 10 years later to tell you that there is no way to “get used” to 85% humidity with a temp of 90 degrees at 5:00 AM with the progression of more heat and humidity throughout the day.
Just another day in paradise.
But there is good news! These handy tips below will help guide you through the wrath of summer and keep your sanity until it’s time for Fall to come and whisk us all away with it’s glorious cool breezes.
HAVE A HYDRATION PLAN
Hydration is the most important part of running in any sort of heat. It includes hydrating before, during, and after a run and can have negative and scary impacts on your performance as well as your general health if you don’t prepare properly.
A water hose is a perfectly acceptable form of hydration.
For longer runs, supplement water with electrolytes like Nuun or Gatorade. Gu, salt tablets, and other energy alternatives are also popular. Experiment with what works best for your body and don’t be afraid to fuel up! My running partner here in Florida runs with gummy bears for fuel during long runs. True story.
If you wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water, it’s too late! I try to drink double what I would on a regular run in any other season. If I’m carrying water with me, I’ll have a small mouthful every mile. If I’m relying on water fountains, I make sure to never skip one no matter how energized I’m feeling at the moment.
Your blood thickens as you lose hydration, which increases stress on your heart, which leads to all sorts of terrible things. Be nice to your hearts, y’all.
For yummy post-run hydration, treat yourself to a smoothie or a popsicle and a nice cold shower. Don’t forget your Picky Bar or another legit carb to protein ratio to aid in the recovery process.
HAVE A WARDROBE PLAN
If you live in an extremely humid place like I do, dri-fit materials don’t really accomplish much for you because the sweat doesn’t evaporate. No matter what you try, you’ll end your run looking like you just jumped out of a pool. And that is totally OK. Embrace the sogginess.
Some runners carry water with them. Others prefer to plan a route with plentiful water fountains. I have been on group runs where we strategically place water coolers on our route before starting. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, just make sure you have one!
The soggier you become, the cooler your sweat angels are!
Keep away from cotton and go for light and breezy materials. My go-to summer running wardrobe consists of Roga Shorts, shimmels or mesh tops (the Farrow Tank is my summer obsession!) and a cap. Also don’t forget the body glide, or else you might get an unwelcomed painful surprise after you’re finished. Ouchies.
HAVE A CROSS TRAINING PLAN
The summertime is a great excuse to get involved in some other fun exercise activities. Give yourself a break every once in a while and mix it up!
I probably shouldn’t quit my day job.
Check your local area for specialized exercise classes like Pure Barre, CrossFit and Orange Theory if you like the group dynamic. If you’re a member of a gym, they most likely offer complimentary exercise classes as well. You can also dust off your bike, go for a swim, or start to tackle that strength training that you keep putting off.
BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR SCHEDULE
In most warm climates, the sun is not your friend. If you aren't already an early morning runner, a hot summer might just turn you into one! Temperatures are at their coolest before the sun rises. Even though you’ll hate yourself when the alarm goes off, you’ll love finishing your run before (or shortly after) that summer sun starts creeping up. I love running in the mornings because I get to enjoy the calmness and serenity of my otherwise bustling city. I also have been known to post (too many?) sunrise photos that I see on my runs, and everyone loves an overactive Instagram account full of sunrises, right?!
I admittedly might have a sunrise overshare problem.
If you really just can’t do the morning thing, don’t forget your old friend the treadmill. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than running in the middle of the day and getting heat exhaustion. You could even break up the mileage between two days, or between the morning and night. Maybe you could even hit a trail with some nice shade instead of the usual concrete jungle. Think outside the box!
DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR GARMIN
Overall performance deteriorates when temperatures are above normal. The increased heat gives a distorted sense of perceived exertion. That basically means your half marathon pace in the spring will feel more like your 5K pace in the summertime. Don’t let it discourage you – it’s just science!
The ‘tude is optional.
After a summer of hard training, you’ll be all the more prepared to toe up to the starting line of your fall marathon on a beautiful chilly morning ready to conquer what lies ahead, with your head up and wings out!