Summer is a great time to run. However the heat and humidity can play havoc on your running pace. The warmer the weather, the more challenging it becomes to adequately cool your body. Heart rates are higher and breathing is more rapid than your normal running pace. The body has to work double time in the heat. The good news is there are a few tricks for beating the heat and getting in your runs this summer.
Switch gears and adapt. It takes about two weeks for your body to adapt to the heat and cool itself more efficiently. Slow your pace and reduce your intensity and get the run in rather than pushing through it. Doing so will allow you to more efficiently acclimate and continue to run. Your body will gradually become better at cooling itself in the warmer weather allowing you to continue to run at your normal pace.
Work with the heat. Run by your effort level rather than your typical pace until you acclimate. If you are new to running, add power walk breaks every 4 to 8 minutes to cool yourself during your runs. It is all about managing your body core temperature and not allowing it to rise too much, risking overheating and really slowing down. Like a car, if the temperature rises too high you will overheat.
Accessorize. Wear light colored, loose fitting wicking running gear. Technical apparel will allow moisture to pass through them to be evaporated, keeping your cooler. Wear sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB rays, waterproof sunscreen, and a hat or visor to protect your skin and eyes from the sun.
Timing is everything. Run at cooler times of the day in the morning or in the evening. If you run in the morning, you'll avoid the heat, but may encounter a higher humidity. The air quality is also better in the morning, since ozone levels increase soon after dawn, peak at midday, and then again in the early evening. Times to avoid running are noon till 3pm.
Extreme measures. If there is a heat alert or poor air quality day, take your workout indoors. You won't get any super-human reward for pushing in dangerous heat and it most likely will take your body longer to recover from the workout. Train smart.
Hydrate during your workouts. For workouts shorter than 45 minutes, water works just fine. For longer runs, research suggests consuming about a cup of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to fuel your muscles and aid in maintaining electrolyte levels.
Coach Jenny Hadfield is the co-author of the best-selling Marathoning for Mortals, and the new Running for Mortals and Training for Mortals series. Coach Jenny has trained thousands of runners and walkers with her training plans. Improve your running performance or train for your first race with Coach Jenny's Active Trainer Program.