Summer Running Tips
If you’re thinking about peaking this fall, summer running is the way to build your mileage base. In my opinion, gradually building a big mileage base is a critical building block in achieving the all-important PR. However, if you live in a hot region, summer running can be a killer. I live in central Florida, and afternoon temperatures regularly soar into the 90s, and the humidity in Florida makes those temperatures feel even worse.
So how do we combat the heat and still get in more miles than we did in the winter? Well, here are some tips to make your summer running easier!
If you make all of your runs at the crack of dawn and after the sun goes down, you’re still getting subjected to the suffocating humidity, but the temperatures are significantly lower. That’s great for workouts and long runs, but if you want those workouts and long runs to feel easier, you have to get your body acclimated.
This may sound insane, but I actually suggest that you tough it out and go out for an occasional lunchtime run (yes, that’s noon-ish!). The trick is to start short and then build miles. Start with only a mile or two on your first heat acclimation run. On your first few runs, it’s going to feel like death, but if you keep it up, your body will adjust.
And it doesn’t take as long as you might think. I find that after about 2 weeks of afternoon runs, I can survive any heat. Physiologically, this is because your body’s blood plasma volume starts increasing almost immediately. Your body also starts regulating the amount of salt in your sweat, and adjusts such that you can run longer without dehydrating. It still feels hot – no doubt about that, but as my body adapts, I can still maintain “easy” pace for an hour and feel fine when I finish.
Don’t skimp on hydration. You need to ensure you’re drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after the run. For longer runs, you probably want to bring a hand bottle with you so you don’t find yourself without any fluids. If you have a scale available, weighing yourself before and after a run can help you determine your sweat rate, and give you an idea of roughly how much you need to drink to get back to being hydrated. The general consensus is to drink about 16 ounces for every pound lost.
KEEP THEM SHORT
For your mid-day lunchtime runs, I don’t suggest more than an hour. 30 – 45 mins is all you need to reap the majority of the benefits, so anything longer than that borders on punishment. If you really need to make it a long run, make sure you bring hydration with you.
What’s the payoff? Well, after I’ve gotten acclimated, those evening workouts and early morning long runs seem MUCH easier. If your body is acclimated to handle running in 90 degree weather, when it dips to low 80s, life is easy!
Consider a vacation from the heat
Every summer, I take at least one trip to a climate where I can escape the heat for a few days. The mental break from the heat can snap you back to enjoying running again, and if you can make it to a location with intriguing scenery, that’s an added bonus. Want an easy option? Try the Arizona High-Altitude Training Institute for some cooler runs and gorgeous scenery.
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