Suddenly, this past week, Virginia decided it was July. Nevermind that it was really May, it was 90* with matching humidity.
This is what I looked like when I got done running on Tuesday:
Yes, that is sweat dripping from my elbows. Thanks for asking.
Remember how cold it was for most of us this winter? The winter of single digits and crazy wind chills? The winter that thought it would stick around until August? Yeah, well that winter is over and I bet your body hasn’t quite caught up.
Mine certainly hasn’t. So, I’ve been working really hard to acclimate to hot. After all, I have three more half marathons left this “spring” and it would be a safe bet to assume that at least one of them will be super hot and humid. In fact, both ZOOMA and Alexandria have been crazy hot a few times in the past. So, I’ve been heading out in the hottest, sunniest part of the day to force my body to acclimate as quickly as possible. Mother Nature has been helping me out by providing the crazy hot days. Thanks, Mother Nature, but I have enough of my own hot flashes. I don’t need yours.
Anyways, here are some things to keep in mind as the summer heat kicks in. If you run smartly and train correctly, your body will adapt and you will be able to make it through. (I hate being hot and yet I survive running in it every year.)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on tv. I just run a lot in Virginia where it is stupid hot and humid in the summer.
1. Dress appropriately – Wear a hat or visor to protect your skin, sunglasses if sun is accompanying the heat, and comfortable, lightweight, wicking clothing. And for the love all that’s holy, wear.sunblock!!! If where you live is anywhere near as humid as where I live, you’ll want to wear as little as possible or you’ll be carrying an extra 5 pounds of weight in soggy clothing by the end. Trust me on that. If you don’t want to share your lily white belly (I won’t judge either way, it’s your choice), tank tops are your best friend in the summer. Particularly tank tops with obnoxious sayings.
2. Hydrate properly – Before. During. After. I try to drink at least a glass or two of water before I run and if it’s over 80 degrees, I take a handheld. Seriously, I ran 3 miles on Tuesday and carried the Ultimate Direction handheld I was sent as part of my ZOOMA ambassadorship (review soon). And, yes, it was nearly empty when I finished. My personal preference is to have something with electrolytes because I sweat out a lot of salt. But that’s a personal choice and you know your body better than I do. Continue hydrating afterwards. Nuun and Ultima are my favorites in the summer for short runs.
3. Pay attention to the weather and plan accordingly – Pollen count high? Make sure that won’t affect your breathing. Humidity nearly as bad as the heat? Check the radar for storms. Heat index really high? If you must run, make sure you are where you have access to shade or someplace you can cool down if you overheat. Code orange or red for air quality? Perhaps this isn’t the best time to run outside.
4. Slow the heck down – No. Really. Stop watching your pace on your Garmin. (I know you are looking.) I don’t care if your speed is reminiscent of a granny with a walker. Hot weather, especially when combined with humidity, is going to make your body work harder at the same pace. While you are adapting to the heat, give your body a break and slow down. Walk if you need to. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you are out of shape or any of the other nasty things you are saying about yourself in your head (I’m not the only one, right?) It’s the heat. Not you.
5. Listen to your body – This is probably the most important thing you can do to adapt to the heat. Respect that the heat is challenging to your body. If you are hydrating and running slowly, you should be ok, but if you feel dizzy or get chills, stop running and find someplace cooler ASAP! Overheating and/or dehydrating are no joke. For this reason, I try to run all of my early summer runs near my house or through urban areas. I don’t want to be walking miles to get back home.
Got any more tips for me? I’ll take ’em. I have a half marathon in August (what was I thinking???), so this won’t be one of those summers where I just stop running for the summer…
Thanks to Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney for hosting Friday Five!
Don’t forget to enter my Altra Running Shoe giveaway!!
40 thoughts on “A Reluctant Southern Girl’s Tips for Hot Weather Running”
You forgot the most obvious one! Get up and run before it gets too hot. I am an early morning runner and it is almost always below 80* when I run. It is only in the dog days that it never goes below that. I know you are not a morning runner, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. Bonus, lots of people have sprinklers on in my suburban neighborhood at dawn, so I get some free, refreshing showers along the way.
Umm, no. I’d rather run in crazy hot than get up before dark. I know. I’m crazy.
I’m with you! Waking up early to run is killer for me, I did a 6:30 am run this past weekend (even tho it was beautiful in DC all day!) and was so sleepy. Morning running is so hard for me…unless I am heading to a race! I just had a guest blog post from a skin cancer survivor and she has some great tips if you’re interested. You mentioned protection as your #1 point so thank you for that! http://findingmystrong.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/guest-post-the-burning-truth-about-skin-cancer/
Yeah, hate the morning run. I ran at 9am today and it still felt too early.
Ugg, I hear ya! I only did 3.1 miles yesterday and that was enough to remind me how hot is was at VA Beach RnR last year and right then aand there I decided that I didn’t want to sign up again…haha.
Visiting from the Friday 5
Yeah, I’ve yet to run in VA Beach. Heat is not my friend.
With the heat kicking in, i’m gearing up to be up before dawn to get those runs in!
I’ll still be running at noon… LOL
I’m not a super early get out there and run person so I also usually end up running mid morning when it’s hot. It’s important to remember to drink throughout the run as well. Thanks for pointing out that your speed is often not what you expected in the DC humidity.
Yes, get used to the idea of slowing down. Heat and humidity will send your heart rate way up.
Great tips. My biggest problem is remembering to hydrate before, especially on my morning runs that are right after waking up, I need to remember to drink a little more before leaving.
Yep, I’m awful about pre-run hydration. I often get out there and then I’m like, oops, all I’ve had is coffee.
One I would add is to try and run as early in the morning as possible and definitely avoid HIGH NOON! If you can find a shaded trail or path – definitely run on that as well. That is how I deal when running in the summertime.
So, I guess we’ve established that I’m not very bright – I run late morning/early afternoon in the bright sun. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger??
Yep, it was definitely hot this week, but the rain seems to have cooled it down a bit. I wimped out this week and ran at they gym because of the heat and rain. By I’m gang to make it outdoors tomorrow morning for a group run.
It’s beautiful here now. I love it when it’s just slightly chilly.
The 4am wake-up calls are on their way here in VA Beach for sure! I always tell my clients (or anyone) to steer clear of RnR VB, add at least a 90 seconds to their per mile time or do the relay/mini because of the heat and humidity.
Ugh, 4am? Not.going.to.do.it. ;o)
I think the slow down part is the one I took the longest to learn. The LHR training and reinforced that rapidly
I’ve learned the hard way to slow down. I’m pretty good about it now, unless I’m actually trying to do “speed” work.
I think too many people forget the after the run hydration. I love my Vega Recovery Accelerator for this reason. It makes me feel like all the good stuff is going back in my body!
I like to drink Muscle Milk or a chocolate milk – hydration + protein. I have a hard time eating after a hot run, so it’s the only time I prefer liquid calories.
#2 and #5. I’m am SO hoping Zooma is cooler than last year! Eeek!!
Yes, please. Cooler would be nice.
I’m going to try NUUN (I’m slow to get on the band wagon) – maybe that will help my next long run!
Love nuun. Ultima is really good too.
Uggghhh….that was me running in Delaware yesterday! And it was actually chilly the day before! Thank you for sharing the tips!
Sounds like VA – one day you are dying from the heat and humidity. The next you are wearing long sleeves to run.
The whole slow down thing is what I hate! I mean I know I have to, plus my body just won’t go any faster when it’s hot and humid but it can be frustrating too! Another tip I’d add is lots of Body Glide 😉
Yeah, it’s frustrating, but I find my speed comes back in the late summer as I adapt and then fall running is awesome.
Your disclaimer is awesome! And I agree with all of these. I don’t mind running in the heat but you definitely have to focus more on hydration!!
I hate the heat. Hate it. I’m crabby most of the summer LOL.
These are all important things to remember, especially the one about slowing down. I personally don’t mind the heat, but I have to know and recognize my body’s limits, which often means slowing down. No runner should beat themselves up because they’re running at a slower than usual pace, especially on a super hot and humid day.
People who don’t mind the heat amaze me. ;o)
Right now it’s hard to imagine needing these tips but I know I will eventually. I’m back to running in tights. Ugh!
Wow! It’s cooler now, but it’s still shorts weather…
Summer training makes for great fall running! Suddenly its like you got a burst of speed in the fall after that hot slow running!
it’s a benefit of the hot in my opinion 🙂
Even before the hydration concerns, I think **being ok with slowing down** is most important.