Yesterday was the first day of summer! While sunny days spent by the pool or beach are fun and relaxing, marathon or multi-sport training can be more demanding with warmer temperatures upon us. Heat and humidity will add an additional challenge to any workout. I'll be training this summer for the Chicago Marathon, which takes place in October. I've run 20 marathons and have some practice training in warmer weather. Here are 7 ways to beat the summer heat from my personal experience.
Ideally you should start running earlier than normal in order to beat the heat. It’s never easy to wake up earlier on the weekends than you do on weekdays, but trust me you won’t regret this decision. Typically I will start running at 6:30 a.m. in the summer, or earlier if I’m really ambitious. If you start running at 9 a.m. you most likely will be running when temperatures are higher and the sun will be shining directly on you. The best way to avoid this is to get up earlier and start running. If that doesn’t work for you, consider doing some of your miles on the treadmill. If you’re doing a 10 mile run and the warmer temperatures are unbearable, consider splitting your run so that 5 miles are outside and 5 are on the treadmill. Or do all of your miles on the treadmill. Also choose a path or trail that is shaded if possible.
Hydrate properly several days before your long run or race. The morning of and during your run, continue to drink up. Consider using an electrolyte supplement before or during your activity. You may want to also consider drinking an electrolyte beverage (like a sports drink) in addition to water. My personal favorite electrolyte supplement is Hammer Nutrition® Endurolytes®. In addition, I will sip on a Hammer Nutrition® Heed®, which is a sports drink. Hydrate properly even after you have finished your outdoor activity. Here is more information on how much you should drink when it's hot out. Watermelon is usually what I will crave when I have finished a long run. Sweet, chilled watermelon is so refreshing. Studies have shown that watermelon helps relieve post exercise muscle soreness. It also will hydrate you and provide key electrolytes. More information on the benefits of watermelon here.
Ice Ice Baby!
If you have a handheld water bottle or even a hydration vest, consider adding ice cubes to your water or electrolyte drink. This will keep your water cold so it’s more refreshing and will help lower your body temperature. When I know temperatures will be high, I will fill my handheld bottle with water halfway and freeze it overnight. The following morning before my run, I pour more water into my bottle with the large ice block. Slowly the ice block will melt. The cold water bottle feels great and keeps my water cold for a longer period of time.
Keep a cool head
I usually wear a hat when I run. My favorite brand is Headsweats®. I love all their products, but the trucker hat is my favorite kind of hat for running. Wearing a hat while running or doing any outdoor activity in the summer is beneficial in many ways. First the hat will absorb excess moisture from your head, and will keep sweat from dripping into your eyes. If you’re like me, my eyes burn when sweat drips into them. Hats prevent this from happening. They also cover your face and block the sun from your eyes. In addition, they will keep you from squinting and furrowing up your face which will prevent you from creating extra tension in your body and allow you to run in a more relaxed state. Consider also wearing sunglasses along with your hat. Another reason hats come in handy is if it starts to rain! You don’t have to worry about the rain getting on your face. For 25% off your Headsweats® order, use the code TRAVELRUNREPEAT at checkout
Wear light weight clothes made of moisture wicking fabric. Don’t wear all black for obvious reason. Consider light weight socks that will wick away moisture, but aren’t too heavy or thick. CEP makes ultralight no-show sock which are a personal favorite of mine. I also use the Headsweats® Ultraband or a headband type product around my neck. This product is helpful to wipe away extra sweat and can also help if you need to tie your hair back or keep the sweat from dripping into your eyes.
Realize that in the summer months your pace will slow down. Generally you may be around 30 seconds to 1 min per mile slower with your pace in the summer months. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you notice yourself slowing down. The heat and humidity make it more difficult to train. Consider taking short walk breaks while you train to lower your heart rate. If you feel dizzy, sit down and call for help. Don’t try to keep running if you feel lightheaded, dizzy or weak. Here is an excerpt taken from an article in Runner's World regarding the effects of heat and humidity on the body (full article):
Heat and/or humidity increase the physical stress on the body and therefore, increase the intensity or effort of the run, which results in higher heart rates. For example, let’s say your 9:40 min/mile in good weather elicits a heart rate of 120 beats per minute (bpm). Hot, humid weather can easily add 20 beats or more to a runner’s average heart rate. This means that the same run pace will now elicit a much higher heart rate. Your 9:40/min mile may now elicit a heart rate of 140 bpm or more. The higher heart rate makes that 9:40/mile run pace uncomfortable; hence, we are forced to slow down. The "slow down factor" varies from runner to runner, but in general, slowing down 30 to 90 seconds per mile is common in hot/humid weather.
If you're interested in calculating how much heat is impacting your race and workout times, click here. This calculator will help you plan and account for exceedingly hot temperatures during workouts or on race day. It can be used to adjust your goal pace according to the weather outlook.
Here is another excellent article on how to train in the heat and what to expect with regards to your pace.
Here is another cool concept: cooling towels. Consider carrying one of these if you have a long race or event that takes place in warmer months. These cooling towels claim: "proprietary technology cools to 30 degrees below average body temperature when wet". To activate: soak the towel with water, wring it out and snap it in the air to activate the cooling properties. Place it around your neck to feel instantly cooler. For the best cooling towel products, click here.
Good luck with your training and stay cool this summer! Follow me on social media as I train for the Chicago Marathon!
***Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for Headsweats, CEP and Hammer Nutrition. I was not given a monetary reward for writing this post. My opinions and recommendations expressed here are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the companies I represent or mention.
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For 25% off your Headsweats order, use code TRAVELRUNREPEAT