Hot Weather Running Tips and Some Mile Repeats
Last weekend I made the not so clever decision to run 8 miles at noon. It was about 80 degrees out, and I was pretty miserable. However, I’ve done lots of long summer runs in the heat which have not been miserable, and have, dare I say it, even been fun? I’ve put together some tips for dealing with running in the summer heat.
1. Pick your time of day.
If possible, run either early morning and later at night. Last summer I set my alarm to around 5.30 or 6am to get my long run in before 10am when it really started to bake. Running in the evening is also an option, but there is an increased risk of mosquitoes. Try to avoid running at the hottest parts of the day – between 11 and 4pm – where possible.
2. Wicking. Wicking. Wicking.
Materials which draw sweat away from your body and allow it to dry can be a lifesaver. I have some great shirts from Brooks, Lululemon, and Nike which do this, and it makes a huge difference. Otherwise, it can feel like running after taking a shower with your clothes on. For me, the lighter the material, the better. Check out some sweet options here.
3. Thin, cool socks.
I find that wearing lighter socks keeps my feet cooler, which keeps the rest of me happier. I like Wright’s Cool Mesh double layer socks, and Asics Kinsei, but I think I’m still looking for my ultimate holy grail sock. If you have recommendations, please let me know!
4. Body Glide!
Sweat = chafing = owowow. Before every high-sweat run, load up on the body glide. There’s no getting around it, unsexy as it is. It’s not like anyone is watching you put it on.
5. Cool Your Body.
Do you remember how amazing it is to dip your feet in a stream after a hot day’s hiking? It’s because the blood is close to the surface of the skin at your ankles, so when you cool your feet, you cool your whole body. Luckily, it’s the same for your wrists. Run each wrist under a cold tap for 10-15 seconds mid-run, and you will instantly feel cooler and your body will thank you. Splashing water on your neck has a similar response, but I like the sustained cooldown from the wrists trick.
6. Carry Your Water.
Even if I’m somewhere like Central Park where there are water fountains all over the place, on a hot day, I’ll still carry my water, either in a FuelBelt, or a handheld water bottle. I like the option of drinking when I want, and I’ll also refill my bottle in case I run out. I’ve taken to filling a bottle half full the night before and putting it in the freezer. I’ll top it up with water before I go, and the ice keeps the water cold and eventually melts while you are running. Some people say drink when you are thirsty, other people think you should drink a set amount per hour. Last year I stuck to drinking 3 gulps of water every 15 minutes on long runs, but this year I have been a little more haphazard and just drunk when I felt like I needed to. I can’t give you any super science or performance advise. Just that you should have water available.
I think electrolytes are a fancy name for the stuff you sweat out or something. I don’t really know what they are, but I do know when you sweat, you need to replace them, or you get crampy and cranky, or worse. There are lots of ways of getting your electrolytes. Some people swear by Nuun, or Gatorade. I like some nuun after a run, but during a run, I prefer to get my fuel and electrolytes from energy gels like Gu, ShotBloks, or Chomps, washed down with plenty of water. There’s something about drinking flavored water on the run makes my stomach gurgle. Personally, I’ll take a gel or some chomps every 45 minutes to an hour, if I’m running for longer than 90 minutes. I don’t usually fuel if I am running for less time than that, but I will carry something on me just in case.
8. Walking Breaks and Slower Pace.
According to Runner’s World every 5F above 60 can decrease your pace by 20-30 seconds. That means a run in 80F could be a full 2 minutes slower pace. Running simply takes more effort and feels much harder the hotter it gets. I have to adjust my attitude to make sure that I feel okay with seeing 9s and even 10s on my garmin, knowing those numbers will drop waay down again when it cools down again. If I am feeling beat, I am okay with taking a walking break to give my body a chance to cool down. As someone who has fainted and thrown up from heat exhaustion, I don’t like to take my chances with it. I’d rather just slow down a little and save the tempos for early mornings.
9. Check Your Route.
When it’s hot out, I try to look for routes with lots of shade, and preferably, less asphalt, which amplifies heat. The Bridle Path in Central is great for this. Running on woody trails is a little piece of summer heaven, but I get that not everyone has access to that. Including me. I’ll avoid the West Side Highway when it’s too warm, as the combination of no shade and roaring traffic feels particularly rough.
What feels hot in June will feel normal in August. The more time you spend outside running, the easier it becomes. Just do it.
Yup, a lot of times running in the heat sucks. It slows you down. It makes you sweaty. You might end up with squelching shoes and looking like you went for a swim with all your clothes on. You will probably feel like doing that. But the more you bitch and moan about how hot you are, the grumpier and hotter you are going to feel. Instead, think of every hot run as an opportunity to build up endurance and tolerance. And remind yourself how zippy you are going to feel when during fall races. Win.
This week has been pretty tough at work, but I’ve made myself get out of bed early to sneak in a couple of runs. The first was a slow 3 and humid three miles on yesterday. This morning I was planning on doing the same junky run, but was inspired by the blue skies and instead did a couple of mile repeats. These were a lot tougher when I turned around and had to run into the wind, hence my second split. Still, a 7:38 average isn’t too bad, and I saw Russ and Janie on the West Side Highway. Janie might be the smiliest person I’ve ever seen running! Once I got to work, I rewarded my early morning running intentions with some favorite treats – fruit and iced coffee. I respond well to incentives.