It is mid-July here in Indianapolis and, as I am writing this post, we are dealing with high humidity and temperatures in the triple digits! Insane, right? Going outside for a run or walk right now can feel like you are eating scorpion peppers in the middle of Death Valley. The good news is that with the right preparation, you can survive the heat and train like a rock star this summer!
Here are my 6 Hot Tips to beating the heat:
Hot Tip 1: Be Patient
Acclimating to the high temperatures takes a minimum of 5-10 runs or walks lasting an hour or more in the heat. It will take approximately 3-5 days for your cardiovascular system to adjust, and up to 10 days for your sweat rate to adapt. It’s always a good idea to adjust your training intensity to the extreme temperatures. Be patient and take it easy while your body adapts to the heat.
Hot Tip 2: Do your Homework
Before you even go out for a run or walk you must have properly hydrated beforehand. A good rule of thumb for knowing how much water to drink during the day is to multiply your body weight in pounds by .55. That gives you a rough estimate of how many ounces you should consume in a day. For example, a 150 pound person should consume approximately 82 to 83 ounces of water a day to stay well hydrated (150 x 0.55 = 82.5).
Hot Tip 3: K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple Silly! There is a lot of research out there suggesting that you should drink only when you are thirsty while running. I personally have found this to be a great strategy. Anytime I have tried to follow a set hydration strategy (where I force myself to take in fluid at specific times) it has backfired on me by causing GI distress. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to be proactive in your hydration plan: drink early and often. But make sure to listen to your stomach and body. Also, make sure you have access to fluids on your run or walk. That could mean picking a route with plenty of water stops or carrying your own fluids via a handheld water bottle, water belt, or hydration bladder. Unlike the proverbial horse, if you lead yourself to water, I’m betting you will drink.
Hot Tip 4: Mix it Up
Don’t just rely on water alone. Gatorade commercials are not wrong when they tell you that you are losing key electrolytes when you sweat. Besides cramping, other side effects of electrolyte imbalance include dizziness, fatigue, foul breath, and more. So incorporate some electrolytes into your run. There are many ways to do this (e.g. consuming sports drinks, gels, gummies, etc.). Everyone is different in what they prefer and what their body can tolerate, so I recommend experimenting to see what works best for you. This is especially important if you are running or walking for more than 45 minutes at a time.
Hot Tip 5: Lower your Expectations
It’s a simple fact: increased heat results in decreased performance. So don’t beat yourself up when you are unable to run or walk at the pace you were when it was 50 degrees outside. A running temperature calculator is a useful tool for making a rough estimate of how much to slow down. Just keep putting the work in during the hot days and trust me, you will reap the rewards come fall when it *finally* cools down.
Hot Tip 6: Know When to Fold ‘Em
Training in the extreme heat is something that should not be taken lightly. My first marathon was in hot weather and at the end I had full body cramping and thought I had lost my hearing. It took a trip to the medical tent, two IV’s, and a lot of curse words before I was ready to celebrate my first finish with friends. I’m not trying to scare you! Rest assured that if you prepare properly and know when to back off, this most likely will not happen to you. But you should absolutely stop running if you feel dizzy, nauseated, have the chills, or cease sweating.
Have a hot tip of your own that you feel like I missed? Let me know in the comments. Hopefully this article will help with your training this summer and get you to your chosen start line ready to run like a Rock Star!