With summer weather coming, you may have noticed that your runs have begun to feel a bit more difficult. Your easy pace now feels like your hydro running and not moving anywhere. While running in the heat our bodies have to work harder to keep us cool, in turn, your heart rate will be higher and breathing becomes more difficult. Why? Your body is directing blood to the skin in order to cool you off through sweating, this means that there is less blood available to transport oxygen to your larger muscles and to your lungs. What would usually be an easy-paced run feels like a 5k sprint.
Now, distance runners are definitely not new to pushing themselves past their comfort zone when training; however, you typically start to hear complaining from just about every runner when the higher temperatures or humidity hits. However, let's put this in perspective, no one has ever improved their fitness/racing performance by being comfortable, More notably, it’s when you’re especially uncomfortable that you start to get a training effect. What is a training effect you ask? Ok, before we jump into what the training effect is. We should address how to properly and safely run in the heat until you are acclimated.
Less is Best
Wear as little clothing as legally possible - LOL. Stick to light-colored, loose, moisture wicking materials. Now is not the time for wearing all black nor cotton. Body Glide is your best friend!!!
Even if it's early morning or partly cloudy, protect yourself from skin cancer.
Wear a Hat
A hat will not only protect your skin from the sun, but it will also help to keep your face shaded.
Start Slow/End Slow
A warm up prior to a run should always be done. You want to gradually increase your heart rate.
Run Early in the Morning
Morning temperatures are usually the coolest during the summer.
Run in the Evening
Not a morning person? Then wait until the late evening when the sun is starting to set.
Take it Slow
Run for time and effort rather than distance and pace. This is important to try and do, I know it is hard to slow down sometimes.
Find your Local Trails
When the temperatures rise, asphalt absorbs heat and radiates it back into your face. Trail running usually offers shade from trees.
If you are running more than 75 to 90 minutes, carry water with you. You should also add some electrolytes to your water to help balance the extra sodium and potassium lost through increased sweating.
Now that we have talked about some safety and preparation for hot weather running, what is the training effect, how to get the benefits from running in hot weather?
Studies have shown that training two to three times per week for 20 to 90 minutes in hot conditions can produce beneficial training effects. Some of these benefits include:
A decreased heartrate
A lower core temperature at the onset of sweating
Increased plasma volume (when plasma is increased in the bloodstream you can send blood to cool your skin without compromising the supply carrying oxygen to your larger muscles.)
An overall improved exercise economy
An increase in oxygen consumption
So what does this mean as a whole? You can run faster and more efficiently in all temperatures.