It seems like for the last few weeks most of the country has been hit by an intense heat wave. That or it’s simply July and for most of the country outside of our prior home of San Francisco – that means it is hot hot hot. Even in the mountains of Colorado, at 8000ft where I spent the last few weeks the heat has been brutal, making training harder than usual. If I don’t get out of the house by 7am I’m toast (literally).
I’m not the only one who has been impacted by these conditions. We are all feeling the heat and I have been adjusting training plans for several of my athletes to cope with the intense conditions and rethink some critical workouts. So, it made think that this is a topic you would all enjoy reading about – how to adjust training to fit environmental conditions.
First of all, let’s be smart about running in the heat. We all know that a little heat is OK and can harden us up for some hot races. However, there is no need to risk serious injury just because you want to get that workout in. Last thing you want to do is find yourself passed out from dehydration or heat stroke, setting back your training several weeks.
Below are some tips for training in the heat:
- On those hot days, adjust your pace as needed. Also, changing the workout from distance to time might be a good way to keep yourself mentally engaged. If you “need” to run outside make sure you turn your workout into a recovery/easy run (1 to 2 min/mile slower than your race pace). Keep an eye on your HR (heart rate) and make sure it is within your recovery zone… if you notice your HR start to spike, listen to your body. At times it is best to just end the workout and rest up so you can fight another day.
- Proper hydration takes place days before your run. Best advice is to always keep yourself hydrated – plain and simple. Then on hot days, take extra fluids with you. Adding some of your favorite hydration powder into your water is a great idea, just make sure you dilute it as you want to avoid the extra sugars. If you are not into spending money on fancy powders, just add some lemon, sea salt and honey to your water bottle and you should be good to go. After your run, make a conscious effort to keep drinking water throughout the day, or if craving something sweet a little orange juice will always do the trick.
Dress for the heat:
- We are fortunate to have some amazing technical running gear which does a great job at keeping you cool(er) and dry. (Stick to light colors of course.) Many activewear companies now offer pieces in UV protective fabrics which are great. Along that line, don’t forget the sunscreen! A sunburn will really place strain on your body and also make spending time outside in the heat even more challenging while recovering. I find that wearing a hat, head wrap and sunglasses also reduces the strain that the sun can cause too.
Take the run indoors:
- I’m just going to say it… get on the treadmill, yup with safety being the most important thing let’s rethink the dreadmill. If you have some quality workouts scheduled which are critical to your training, talk to your coach on how to adjust these sessions to be done indoors. If done correctly treadmill workouts can be extremely beneficial in focusing on specific race pace. Hill workouts can also be done on a treadmill with much success.
Summer is upon us and it’s hot out there folks. Take care of yourselves and listen to your body, adjusting as necessary and you will still be able to make improvements and progress despite the heat. And… when you need a break from the heat training… head to the pool or beach to cool off and relax. (Don’t forget what I said about the sunscreen!)
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