Managing the Heat: Summer Running
It’s already been a strange year for weather. Temperatures have been consistently warmer than normal, drought has given way to flooding all around the country, and now that the summer solstice has greeted us, it would seem that someone turned on the oven. I will be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of warm-weather running. I know that some people like to work up a good sweat in the first 5 minutes, and carry that throughout their workout, but I’m not one of them! 40 degrees at the start, and 55 or 60 at the end is what you would call my running sweet-spot, and those days are gone for a while. I’ve already committed to taking a racing break for June and July, but I’m still going to be training and getting ready for the fall race season, which means I need to make my peace with the heat and move on. This is no easy task.
Luckily, my love of running is stronger than my dislike of the heat. As such, I’m always thinking of ways to keep up my endurance training while avoiding the heat as much as possible. Clearly hydration plays a big factor in maintaining your training and chasing down your goals, but once the heat of summer starts bearing down on you, simply drinking more water just doesn’t seem like enough. So, there are a few other approaches to beating the heat and continuing to push forward, some of which I more easily implement than others 🙂
1. Wake-Up Call! Perhaps the most difficult of all adjustments for me is getting up earlier to go for an early morning run before the sun even has time to grace you with it’s rays. I am the antithesis of a morning person, but I’ll still push myself to get up extra early if it means my run will be more comfortable. On the bright side, you get home earlier, can get some things done in the morning, and have time for an afternoon nap! You can always sleep in your running clothes to save time in the morning too 😉
2. Hiding Under the Canopy: I live in Iowa, which means the corn fields far out-number the forests. However, seeking out shaded routes can certainly help you conserve energy and lead to a more comfortable run. Your risk of sunburn goes down considerably as well (which is constantly on the mind of this Irish/German!)
3. Hit the Trails: As indicated above, forested land is at a premium in Iowa. However, trading in the city streets for the trails will not only mix up your routine and work out different leg muscles, but the chances of a cooler environment make for a more comfortable run as well.
4. Embrace the Heat: The beautiful epicurean has found a new love in hot yoga. I’ve been a fan of yoga in general for many years, but have never given the hot variety a go. However, if it’s going to be hot anyway, why not head into a 105 degree room for some deep stretching and strength-training, right?
5. Reassess Your Wardrobe: The hotter it gets, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more your clothes stick to you. As a result, running shorts and tops that were once very comfortable can begin to irritate you as seams rub the wrong way or the added weight becomes too much. Summer is a great time to check in with your running wardrobe and see if you need to invest in some better tech fabrics. You could certainly invest in some even more high-tech apparel as well, but it’s not necessary.
I’m sure there are other tips and tricks that folks have for beating the heat. Whatever you do, as always, running smart and staying hydrated (without becoming over-hydrated) is going to be the most important aspect of summer running. Now I think it’s time for me to go hit the trails!