It's much easier to find the motivation to train in sunny weather: those dark, rainy mornings are a distant memory! However our current heatwave brings its own challenges and it's important to make allowances for the hotter weather. Consider these hot running tips to keep your cool and optimise your training this summer.
1. Acclimatise. It takes about two weeks for your body to acclimatise to running more efficiently in the warmer weather, and even then it can still be a challenge. Invest the first two weeks of the warm-weather season to running at an easy effort to allow your body time to adjust and cool itself more easily. Although you'll need to slow down, you'll get in a higher quality workout without taxing your body due to the greater demands of running in the heat. You'll also recover more efficiently so you can keep the momentum flowing through the season.
2. Run by effort, not pace. Avoid the frustration of running by pace, and train to the tune of your body—called effort-based training. Whether with heart-rate training or by your perceived effort (how you feel), effort-based training will allow you to train in the optimal zone on the given day, and avoid overexertion and delayed recovery.
That tempo run may be a 30 to 45 seconds per mile slower in the heat of the summer, but the purpose of the workout isn't to hit a magic pace. The purpose is to train at your threshold effort and train to raise it throughout the season. The body doesn't know pace. It knows effort. And when you ebb and flow with what the day gives you, your training and performance will continue to progress one workout at a time.
3. Run at cooler times. Morning and evening runs are far better than trying to train in the punishing midday heat. If you can, plan your runs in loops, rather than out and back, to give you the chance to cut your run short if you are suffering. Stash some water at the start/finish point, and don't forget to wear a visor or sun hat, UV-rated sunglasses and (preferably sweat-proof) sunscreen.
4. Hydrate right. It's not only important to keep your fluid levels topped up during a run: make sure that you drink plenty of water when you're not training as well. Your urine should be a pale straw colour at all times, otherwise you risk heading out to run when you're already dehydrated.
5. 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.