By Stuart Kaplan
Disclaimer: The Advice given in this blog is from the experiences of the runners who completed a survey. This information has not been endorsed by PPTC
I will never forget that humid day in June when I ran the Queens 10K. Humidity got me. I fell victim to summer running when I began to black out 100 ft before the finish line. Even though I finished that race (not remembering crossing the finish line), the pictures are proof that heat and humidity got the best of me that day.
Even the most experienced runners have to modify their running to handle the hot weather. According to Kristen Dold of Runner’s World, “science says training in the heat is worth the trouble: Hot-weather workouts teach your body to sweat more, increase your blood-plasma volume, and lower your core body temperature- all adaptations that help you perform better in any weather.” Although this can all lead to improvements in running, from my own experience, it can also be a pain when summer running is also training for that big race in the fall.
Summer running can truly challenge us. In my own experience changes in pace and dehydration have both been challenges that I have had to deal with. In order to overcome these challenges, I try to get up earlier to run. The later it gets, the hotter it gets. On those hot days I know my pace won’t be the same, I spend more time concentrating on my form, my breathing, and pay closer attention to my hydration. I read an article in Runner’s World “Six Ways to Run Long and Strong in the Heat” by Jenny Hadfield. She makes the point, “In the heat concentrate on effort not pace.” I am learning to listen to my body. If I need I slow down especially if I’m running in the direction of the sun.
On hot days I also like to rehydrate with a Nuun after my run. Hydration should be a constant even on those off days. A friend of mine gave me great advice. She said that during a race on a hot day she took some cold water and poured it on the back of her neck and her wrists. By doing this she said her body temperature began to decrease, and her pace then increased. I have found in my own experience that doing this helps.
We recently sent out a survey asking runners in PPTC about their experiences with running in high temperature and humidity. Out of the 30 responses, 18 runners (60%) said their biggest challenge was the change in pace. Seventeen people (56%) said that dehydration created challenges for them. These two issues can truly affect training. Read more to learn about their challenges with summer running, the ways in which they have overcome these challenges, and some advice and takeaways on ways we can better prepare ourselves for running in hot weather.
Roshan –Member of PPTC for two months: Challenges- The Heat, Motivation, and Preparing for a Race
It’s hard to get up early enough to beat the heat! But I know I need to get out there for marathon training. Group runs help with motivation but it can be hard going to bed early on a weekend to get up early the next day. I’ve started to try and plan more interesting routes and explore parts of the city that I don’t usually get to anymore. I had a 12 mile run recently and decided to map it out that I did a nice route in Manhattan ended at Pier 11. I live in Brooklyn Heights and took the ferry back after the run. It was the greatest feeling to sit on top and feel the breeze. It was fun! Helps with my motivation when I feel like I have a good run regardless of heat or motivation.
Noah – Member of PPTC for one year. Challenges: Dehydration, Changes in Pace
I had to slow down when it first got hot. It took about a month to get workout paces back up to the level they were in the spring. Had to remember to drink water regularly but not too much at one time. Nuun tablets and coconut water are lifesavers. Electrolytes are real.
Jana- Member of PPTC for two years –Challenges: Dehydration, Changes in Pace, Preparing for a race
Last year I was well trained for the 2015 Boston Marathon. The weather was very hot and humid on race day. I went out at my originally planned pace and ended up dehydrated and in the medical tent at Mile 8. I was devastated and that night I signed up for the Vermont City Marathon a few weeks later. On the day, it was 88 degrees and sunny. I was able to finish that marathon, but the heat really got to me and my time was an hour slower than my goal! Often times, I have felt sluggish and thirsty during hot weather days.” I began to do most of my summer runs very early in the morning before the sun was out. I accept that my pace may be slower on a hot day. If it is extremely hot on one day, I might move my long run to the next day. Overall, being flexible, being kind to myself and adjusting my expectations for time when needed.
- Adjust your time expectations–set a slower goal time.
- Run by effort, not by pace because the heat WILL affect your pace.
- Be kind to yourself. If the weather is not ideal for a race, it’s ok if you so not perform at your full potential.
- Hydrate well before, during and after a run on a hot day.
- Bring water with you so you can drink while running on a hot day. Whether it is a hydration pack or handheld bottle–just make sure you stay hydrated.
- Run very early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the sun beating down on you.
- Wear light and breathable clothing.
- For a goal race, exactly how much should you adjust your time goal based on the temperature?
- Does the heat have a greater effect on race result when the distance is longer? I noticed that I’m better able to run a fast 5k on a hot day than a fast marathon.
Rachel Member of PPTC for four months. Challenges: The Heat, Motivation
In the hot weather, I never want to go outside let alone run, the heat kills my motivation and makes me feel exhausted all the time. Run very early, run shorter distances more often rather than one long run (too draining), and HYDRATE so much. I also like to use Emergen-C tab before runs and organic Gatorade (it’s really tasty!) after runs. Recovery after runs is really important for me in the heat, getting the right nutrition afterward. I also let myself nap after weekend runs to re-energize. it’s made me more methodical in how I plan my weekly runs and how I recover from runs. It also made me less afraid to just get out there even if I think I may not be able to finish my distance or get the pace I want.
Advice: Give yourself extra time to prepare, get out earlier, and take a longer recovery.
Questions: Is there ever a temperature/humidity index/air quality alert that you really shouldn’t run in? What are the warning signs that you should look for in case you’ve pushed yourself too hard in the heat?
Sam: Member of PPTC for 1yr 4months-Challenges: The Heat, and Motivation
I found that getting out to run is the hardest thing about running during hot and humid summer days. Once laced up and outside, it’s one foot front of another. Then heat and humidity hit you and I’m drenched in my own sweat. It’s more of mental challenge from there on than physical since once my mind says it’s too hot, my body tends to break down and doesn’t want to move. However, when I’m mentally strong as sometimes I am, it becomes much better run than a winter day. I carry a bottle water during the run and I wet my head with cold water. If I’m running in the park, I stop by the Center Drive and wet my head. I’m not sure if I’m improving as a runner but having committed to running at least two miles a day no matter the weather condition has got me out and do the daily run. I’m able to run much better in the heat and humidity that before so I guess I have improved running in the hot and humid days.
Advice: Wet your head down with cold water to cool down. But most of all, slow down. It’s much easier to run your distance by slowing your pace than trying to run fast so you can get out of the heat. Also, you are still getting your workout by going the distance.
Adam Member of PPTC 6 months-Challenges: The Heat, Dehydration
Counterintuitively I am a more consistent runner in the summer. My biggest obstacle is running before sunrise, so with the long summer days, I don’t find it difficult to get in the miles. I started running in Atlanta, GA where hot, humid days are the norm. However you have to stay hydrated if you want to train and heat-adapt successfully.
It is so important to stay hydrated. Don’t just hydrate before you go out. You should be hydrating consistently on your off-days, when you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning. I have an insulated water bottle that I load up with ice and keep with me all day. I think the key is to have consistent fluid intake rather than a quick spike in fluids right before a run. If you overload your system all at once, you’ll just pee the water right back out. Staying hydrated has kept my pace consistent during summer training. I find that I don’t need to slow down much unless I’m running at 1 or 2 in the afternoon (and why on Earth would you do that)?
Advice: Stay hydrated every day, even when you are not running. Try to find routes with shade, and either bring water or plan a route that has water fountains available.
Lillian- Member of PPTC 2 Yrs Challenges: The Heat
I’m very much a fair weather runner. I know heat and humidity affect everyone, but I’m disproportionately affected, in particular with humidity. I slow waaaay down.
I spent more time doing heat adaptation – more slow running in the heat. It’s not about the miles or the pace, but just time spent under the sun, so when I need to run fast, I’m more used to warm temperatures. Also, I freeze water in a Simple Hydration bottle (for which I’m a brand ambassador because I love this product so much). The ice melts during the run so I have icy cold water to drink and to sprinkle over my head. It helps to cool me.
I ran my fastest AGSS last week on one of the hottest days of the year. I didn’t wilt under the heat the way I did all summer long last year. I’m running faster under warmer temperatures, which bodes well for fall racing.
Advice: Oh, the usual advice of try to run during cooler times of the day, drink lots of water, remember your electrolytes, and back off the pace. Now is not the time to summon your inner Eliud Kipchoge.
Anonymous: Challenge: The Heat, Motivation
It’s frustrating to have to slow down so much and have a higher RPE. I don’t like to run really early in the morning, but it gets tough later in the day, especially with long runs.
I do end up trying to run earlier on long runs. I try to be forgiving of myself when it comes to hitting all of my pace goals and expect easy days to be a lot slower. Running with other people helps in terms of motivation.
I started marathon training last summer when there were a lot of really hot days. I doubted my ability to meet my marathon goals a lot, but having gone through that tough summer helped me cultivate patience and some necessary grit.
Advice: I think you should still work to have quality workouts, but I think some things might have to give in the heat. For example, even if you have a handheld water bottle, you will probably have to stop during your long run to fill it up. Adjusting your expectations can be helpful. You can expect to go slower than what you’d like and still expect to do well in the fall.
Anonymous: Challenges: The Heat, Dehydration
I find myself really nauseous after long runs. Also–I try to run early in the morning (6 am) so it’s sometimes a struggle to get out of bed
I am more responsible about hydration and electrolytes. I drink a lot of water (and Nuun) the day before an the morning of. I swear by the Endurolytes Extreme salt pills, one before my run, and one for every hour I’m running to ensure I don’t suffer from electrolyte balance. I also make sure I have a simple snack (like a PB sandwich, some leftover pasta, or a piece of fruit) waiting for me at the end.
Advice: Listen to your body, don’t feel bad about slowing down, and drink water well before you’re thirsty!
Questions: Any suggestions for quick-ready to eat snacks for before/after runs? Also–summer running clothes are tiny–how do you carry your nutrition?
Isaac Member of PPTC 1.5.yrs- Challenges: Heat, Changes in pace
Long weekend runs start at 6:00 am
Articles to read:
“Tips for Training in Hot Weather” By Kristen Dold
“Six ways to Run Long and Strong in the Heat” by Jenny Hadfield