It’s hot outside and not exactly the ideal temperature for a run. However, there’s good news! You can make the most of your hot weather runs and even come away with some added training benefits.
To get the most out of your training runs on hot days, here are some tips to better understand and prepare for the heat.
Understand your body’s response to the heat
Heat will elevate your body temperature and in an effort to keep it cool, your body will sweat more to cool it down. This diverts blood flow away from your muscles and with less blood going to your muscles, they will get less oxygen. Less oxygen means it’s more difficult to do what you’d normally do on a cooler day. Therefore, it requires more energy and effort to run in the heat.
Benefits of training in the heat
Believe it or not, there are some training benefits to running in the heat:
- It prepares us for unexpectedly hot race days. If you know what it feels like and can practice making needed adjustments to run on a hot training day, you’re better prepared for a hot race day.
- Hot weather training increases our body’s efficiency at cooling itself and can benefit you even in cooler weather.
- It’s said to offer similar benefits to altitude training by helping increase your body’s blood supply.
On top of that, it can also be good mental training. Your attitude prior to a run or race can make or break it. Practicing a good attitude in the face of this heat can better prepare you mentally for the tougher runs ahead.
While it may not be comfortable to run in heat, it’s important to remember: fully experiencing those uncomfortable moments can help us grow as athletes and as people. In long-distance training we train our bodies and mind to step outside our comfort zones. It’s when we allow ourselves to step beyond our levels of comfort that we grow and progress as runners. This can be one of those growth moments if you allow it to be.
If you think you’re not “good” at running in warmer temperatures, consider this practice or training to get better.
Staying safe on hot weather runs
It’s important to be careful while training in the heat. Here are some tweaks that can help you stay safe and get the most out of a hot training run.
Slow your roll.
This is an ideal moment to practice listening to your body. Depending on how well you acclimatize to the heat and how well your body is at cooling itself, you may need to slow down quite a bit (15 to 30 seconds per kilometer). Focus on how you feel instead of on your pace. This would be a good time to train with your heart rate but if you’re not accustomed to that, save it for later.
Being able to adjust your pace when needed is an important skill in long-distance running. This is a good time to practice.
Wear cooler, lighter clothing.
Light colored fabrics, and breathable wicking fabrics help keep you cooler. Cotton is often too heavy and absorbent for this heat. Opt for shorts and tanks or singlets to allow your skin to breathe and sweat to easily evaporate.
Wear a cool, light-colored breathable hat to keep your head cool, preferably a wicking fabric.
Hydrate the days before and the day of a run. Carry water with you on your run and opt for a sports drink on a hot day when you’ll be sweating more and losing more electrolytes. Drink up for the hours following a run to replace what you lost during.
Take water breaks or rest breaks.
Schedule breaks or practice intervals if you need. Try running 9 minutes and walk 1 or stop every 10 minutes for a rest/water break in the shade. See it as an opportunity to try out different ways of running and training and the benefits they may have.
Shorten your run.
This might be necessary on faster runs but on long slow runs in long-distance training, it’s perhaps more beneficial to slow your pace and take quick breaks if needed to cool down.
Look out for your running buddies.
Everyone responds differently to the heat. Stay tuned in to how your running buddies are doing and offer a short, shady rest if you see they’re not responding as well as you to the heat.
Don’t let the heat get you down. This is just training and you can make what you want of it. Stop in a cafe and have a refreshing drink along the way if you need.
Got any hot-weather running tips that work for you? Please share! We’d love to hear what helps you beat the heat.