Baby, it’s hot outside! OK, maybe I shouldn’t complain because my Tuesdays on the Run partners in crime, April and Patty, live in Florida and Arizona. They know hot. But since our topic for the week is hot weather running, I’m going to talk to you about my training plans and give you some tips on how to survive running in the heat.
Somehow I went from wearing this:
to wearing this:
in what feels like two days.
And, no, I’m not going to suggest taking a training hiatus. I know that’s been my choice for the last few summers, but I have 6 half marathons in 6 days in September (really? what was I thinking?) and Marine Corps Marathon in October. I’m going to go a little unconventional for my marathon training this time – I’m looking at the Hanson plan which has 5-6 days a week of running, with two high mileage days, but tops out at 16 miles. Thanks to my back to back marathons, I have confidence that I can keep running when I’m tired, so I’m thinking Hanson is a better option for me. (OK, also, the thought of 18-20 miles in Virginia heat kind of makes me want to cry.)
So, as I prepare to kick off summer of training, here are some things I’ve learned over the years as a Virginia runner.
1. Give your body time to acclimate. I find that short runs in the hottest part of the late spring/early summer days help me handle the hot weather faster. I try to get out there as much as possible in the high 70s and 80s, so that when the 90s hit, I’m at least partially adapted. (We aren’t going to talk about the fact that Virginia totally didn’t allow for that this spring – we went straight from winter to summer.)
2. Go early, go late, or go slow. Obviously, early and late give you (somewhat, sometimes) cooler temps, but most importantly they offer a chance to run without the sun beating down on you. At the very least, the sun is at an angle. If you are lucky, this means a good bit of shade. Lunchtime the only time you can run? Don’t plan your speedwork at that time. Heat already raises your temperature and heart rate. Putting additional stress by pushing hard can result in light headedness, dehydration, and potentially heat stroke.
3. Have a hydration plan. I carry liquid with me in a handheld bottle. I know that my one bottle will not last me through double digit runs in the summer, so I’ll either be swinging back past my house or past one of the area parks to hit the water fountain. Either way, I’ll be planning my route to make that possible.
4. Have a cooling plan. Just like in winter running when I recommend knowing where you can stop to warm up if necessary, knowing where you can cool off is key. Sometimes we misjudge how warm it really is or the sun is strong or there is no breeze. Any of these can result in a warmer run than anticipated and the need to bring your core temp down. I know pretty much where all the libraries, grocery stores, and “spray grounds”are in my area and I try to never be more than a mile or two from one of those options.
5. Choose a training plan that works with your schedule. One of the reasons (of many) that I’m considering a plan with a lower mileage long run is that I know that I will frequently be running during the hottest part of the day. I’m going to be juggling camps, my job, and the boys at home and will need to be flexible about when I start my runs. Running 20 miles in the Virginia heat does not in any way excite me. Running 20 miles in the Virginia heat during the middle of the day could be dangerous.
6. Dress Appropriately. Skirt or shorts, tank top, sunglasses, hat! And sunscreen! Don’t forget the sunscreen! Make sure you put the sunscreen on early enough that it totally soaks in. Sunscreen + sweat in the eyes is pretty much a modern day torture.
6. Use a watch or app that allows you to track your workouts. I train by mileage, not time, when I run, so if I have to modify my route due to heat, I want to know how that changed my mileage. Kohl’s recently sent me a Timex Ironman Run X20 Digital GPS Watch from their active watches collection to try out. It’s a GPS enabled watch and is just one of their many Timex options. The plan I’m using calls for specific paces. I may be adjusting those paces (slower) to account for heat, but I’ll still have goals of time and distance when I head out. The Timex Run X20 is an easy to use watch that will provide me with that information.
Want to win one? Enter my giveaway!
Disclaimer: Kohl’s provided me with the watch to try, as well as the watch to giveaway. All opinions and advice are my own.