Running in the summer can make training really hard. Especially if you have a fall marathon, you know you need to get out there, but how do you do it without feeling like you are going to pass out at any second?
Well, firstly I would check out my article on summer running and what to wear at every temperature. I also wrote two other articles on running weather, which you can find here:
On to today:
It is that time of year; the temperatures are high and there is a very short window early in the morning before the heat soars. I also like to remember on how I need to run by feel using an effort scale to make the most out of your runs when the weather wants to just kill ya.
This can make running somewhat difficult, as the sun beaming down on your head and the heat waves wiggling on the asphalt; make you feel like an egg on a frying pan.
Or is that just me?
How does running in the heat affect racing?
A study that analyzed over 1.7 million people in marathons all over the world over the course of 10 years, found that air temperature had the biggest impact on running performance.
There was a significant correlation of high temperatures with a decrease in performance in each of the 60 races analyzed.
This graph shows the difference in performances as a whole for Chicago marathon in 2002 and 2007, where temperatures were 5.4 °C (41.7°F) and 25°C (77°F) respectively. Paris temperatures in 2002 also show the impact of temperature as temperatures were 7.6°C (45.6°F) and 17.4°C (63.6°F).
You can clearly see that in 2007, when temperatures were higher, performances were impacted.
However, this time of year, it can be impossible to avoid the heat, especially on long runs, and race start times are set.
How can I get the most out of my training in the summer heat?
Here is my advice on how to handle running in the summer.
Run early in the morning or late at night
If possible, try to run/workout before the sun fully rises in the morning, or later in the evening as the sun is setting, to avoid the sun beating down on your head.
If you have a long run, be sure to start early so you only have a short amount of time in the heat.
I try to run in the heat of the day once per week as preparation for races that are on exceptionally hot days, but all my other runs are done early in the morning.
Run in the shade and avoid asphalt running in summer
If you must run/workout in the heat, it is best to go in covered areas as much as possible to limit the heat from the sun raising your body temperature even higher.
Areas with tall trees are the best places to run in summer, as the trees block the sun, and therefore the heat, which will make it much more comfortable.
Another big tip:
Avoid running on black top surfaces
When the sun is out, asphalt and other black surfaces will reflect the heat back up, making it even hotter. Try to stay on lighter colored surfaces, or grass as much as possible.
This is also a great opportunity to give your body a break from the pounding of hard surfaces.
What accessories make running in the summer bearable?
Wear a hat to keep the sun off your face, again keeping you cooler, and providing a psychological boost.
It is also important to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses often. Especially when it is a clear day and there are plenty of reflective surfaces around the city/town.
What should I wear to run in the summer?
Try to select loose fitting, sweat wicking fabrics, that will pull the sweat from your body and onto the material. This will keep your body temperature down as it helps the effectiveness of sweating for cooling your body down.
Some people also believe it is better to wear a T-shirt in warm weather to take the sweat off your skin as it cannot evaporate fast enough.
I have created a guide for what to wear at every temperature, hopefully this will provide you useful suggestions.
Reduce warm up time for workouts/races
Your muscles will warm up much faster as the temperature rises, which may reduce the amount of time you want to spend running beforehand to prevent overheating.
A warm up is still important for waking up your muscles before a hard workout or race, but you probably don’t need to do as much as you would usually, unless you are trying to get mileage in.
I would still encourage you to do more miles for cool down than warm up, that way you can get the hard part in before it gets too warm, and then just suffer your way through the cool down.
Slow down your running in the summer!
Accept that running/training in the heat is much more strenuous on your body, as its priority is to keep your internal body temperature constant, therefore your performance becomes secondary.
You will likely feel as though you are working much harder to run a slower pace, that is okay, everyone else is in the same position. That is why I recommend using the effort scale to run by feel in the summer.
That way you will not freak out about the pace!
Even if you have multiple workouts in the heat, you will not lose fitness because once the temperature does drop, your body will be much more efficient.
Think of all those fall races where you will be able to fly!
Place ice cubes/cooling packs on your wrists and the back of your neck
This helps to lower your body temperature prior to a race/workout. This is only temporary, but can relieve some of the psychological stress heat brings.
I actually used this one when I raced in Texas, and found it was very helpful.
Use water cups for more than just drinking
If you are in a longer race where you have access to water cups or can swing by your house/an area where you can leave a bottle, drink as much as you can, and dump the rest over your head.
You guessed it….this helps reduce your body temperature, and feels very refreshing!
Rehydrate rehydrate, rehydrate
This is THE MOST important of all.
You will sweat a lot more in the summer, and will need to replenish that water as soon as possible.
Weigh yourself (naked) before you run/workout, and then weigh yourself (naked again) when you return. The weight you lost during the workout is how much liquid you need to consume.
On hot days you will also have to replenish your electrolytes. This is where I love to use Enduropacks to spray into any drink. Continue to drink lots of water until your pee is completely clear. Remember, you can use code TINAMUIR for 10% off.
Helou, Nour El; Tafflet, Muriel; Berthelot, Geoffroy; Tolaini, Julien; Marc, Andy; et al. PLoS One7.5 (May 2012).