10 Essential Tips for Running and Racing in the Summer Heat

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Run in Circles

For long runs, create a short loop that takes you 30 to 45 minutes to complete, and stow a treasure chest of goodies to keep you cool and happy. This allows for an effective mental strategy, as you're only ever focused on one loop at a time. You can try hiding necessities, such as sports drinks, gels, electrolytes, chafing lube, sunscreen, cool towels and refresh an ice-dana (bandana with ice for your neck), in one spot along your loop so you can replenish. I'll even include a special treat for the later miles that gives me something to look forward to (flavored ice pops). It's a great way to keep your body cool on a long, hot run.

More: Don't Let Your Sports Drink Become a Crutch

Hydrate Just Right Like Goldie-Locks

Hydrate too little and you risk dehydration and heat cramps. Over hydrate and you risk diluting electrolytes and developing hyponatremia. Everyone has their own hydration rates and they vary based on the climate, your body, fitness and many other variables. 

Tim Noakes, medical doctor, exercise physiologist and author of Waterlogged, recommends hydrating to your thirst and, for distance runners, consuming 60 to 100 grams of sugar per hour (around three gels). Gone are the days where we coached drinking at timed intervals; natural hydration is back in style.

More: The Truth About Hydration in the Heat

Train Like MacGyver 

For those of us who already run on the slower side, recommending slowing it down in the heat is an impossible feat. "Any slower and I'll be going backwards," as one of my clients reminds me. If you fall into this category, good for you. This crowd knows how to have fun on the run. Consider altering your long-run strategy to weave in walking intervals. I promise the gods will not strike you down, and you'll run stronger for longer and be much happier at the finish.

Walking every 4 to 5 minutes for 1 to 2 minutes keeps your body core temperature in check, allows you to run with better quality, and reduces the chances of developing heat stress. When the weather breaks, you can increase the ratio (one minute for every 8 to 10 of running,) and race with continuous running or an interval plan. Both are a great way to run strong.

More: How to Execute a Run-Walk Program Properly

Be Aware 

Listen to your body and be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Your body cools itself by sweating but as the heat and humidity increase, your body core temperature rises as does the risk for heat-related illness. Here are the signs and symptoms you need to watch out for:

  • Heat Cramps: muscle spasm and pain
  • Heat Exhaustion: heavy sweating; rapid breathing; fast, weak pulse; headache; fatigue and nausea
  • Heat Stroke: rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and vomiting, body-core temperature above 104 degrees.

More: 3 Heat-Related Illnesses You Can Avoid

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