We are again getting into the race season and that means it is getting hot outside. In the Midwest one weekend we had temps in the 50's and within a week temperatures reached 90 degrees. For those who live in Florida and other warm weather locations are thinking the 90's are no big deal. And this is true, if you are acclimated to hot weather, it can be easier to manage. The challenge is, when we hit the summer months and we have spikes in the temps. I am sure everyone can agree doing a run in 50 degrees weather and then a few days later doing one in 90 degree weather is just not enough time to acclimate and we need to be smart in out training to not only have a good training day, but to be able to recover so we can have another good day the next day. The heat can wear us out more then we realize and can not only have negative effects on a training session, but due to the recover time, may have negative effects on our recovery several days later.
Since a pool can keep us cool and the bike with wind resistance and being able to carry more water and fluids makes it easier to keep our core temps down, I am going to focus on tips for running in hot weather. However, some of these tips can be applied to swimming and biking as well.
1. If you can, schedule your run workouts in the morning or evening. It will be cooler during these times and will allow for a better overall workout.
2. Slow down and watch your heart rate: You may have been prescribed certain paces to hit on your run, but pay attention to your HR. Even though your pace maybe at a recovery or endurance the heat maybe causing your heart rate to sky rocket. If you are doing an endurance run and your HR is reading 170, then you are taxing your body to much. Pay attention and realize it is ok to slowdown, you are still getting the work in. If the HR is to high, you will be working much harder then you need to and it will take longer for you to recover.
3. Carry water and fluids. You need to replenish your fluids and electrolytes and the hotter it is, the more you need. With fluids on a hot day it is better to take the side of caution and carry more then you think you will need or plan a route were there are water fountains or water stops to fill back up. It is better to have it and not need it vs need it and not have it.
4. Wear a hat or visor and sunglasses. The shade covering your face along with your sunglasses blocking the sun will help keep you cool. On race day a mesh hat is a good idea. During ice stations you can take ice and put it under your cap and hold it in your hands to help keep you cool.
5. Find a shade. If you are running, try to pick route that has plenty of shade. If you find yourself over heating get in some shade to bring your body temps back down.
6. Be honest and be safe. If you are over heating stop!! There is no need to think you need to gut it out. You do not want to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke. I have dealt with those situations where someone has had heat stroke and heat exhaustion and it can be scary. All three times we had paramedics on staff and could give immediate assistance. If you are out on a run by yourself or far from immediate assistance, the results could be devastating.
Stay safe out there. I would personally have an athlete tell me it was just to hot to run so they skipped it vs getting a phone call that something bad has happened because they felt they had to get a workout in. One workout will not make or break you if you need to cut it short due to the heat. However, one workout where you push too far in the heat could end your season or something worse.
Stay cool and stay safe
- Coach Nick
Nick Early is a former professional triathlete and head coach and owner of E-Endurance a Chicagoland area multisport coaching company that specializes in coaching for triathlons, swimming, cycling, and running.