The mercury is definitely rising around here – we’ve had some record high temperatures here in DC, and it feels like we’ll have our first 100 degree day pretty soon (if we haven’t already). To be honest, I’m a cold weather runner through and through and anything hotter than 65 degrees makes me want to head to my nearest treadmill where I can run all day in air conditioned comfort. But I’ve realized that unless I plan to run indoors all summer, it’s best to start getting heat trained now. Here’s a few reasons why I’m embracing hot weather running this year:
1. Heat training makes you mentally and physically stronger – the heat increases both actual effort and perception of effort. Train outdoors all summer and you’ll definitely see the benefits during your fall races!
2. No need to layer up – it takes me less than a minute to get dressed, pull on my shoes and head out the door. No hat, gloves, vest/jacket, thick socks etc required!
3. Your muscles warm up instantly – I noticed that any soreness/stiffness at a beginning of a run disappears quickly because my muscles are nice and warm, and my legs are much more pliable when I’m stretching afterwards. I haven’t found any studies to support this, but I wonder whether certain injuries are less prevalent in the summertime due to warmer muscles?
4. You’ll have the sidewalks/trails to yourself! Well, maybe not completely, but you will be one of the few hard-core crazies out there ;)
5. Is there anything better than a cold shower after a hot, sweaty run? (maybe a hot shower after a cold run, lol) Tip: use a soap that contains peppermint oil like Bath and Body Work’s Mentha line to cool off even faster!
It only sucks for a few runs – after a week of hot weather runs, I can already feel my body adapting to the hotter temperatures and it doesn’t feel so impossible. A few quick tips:
Carry ice water – more ice than water. Bonus points if you just freeze the bottle. Trust me, you’ll appreciate having ice cold water with you for the whole run. I carry water for all runs above 70 degrees right now, no matter how short, and I carry Gatorade or similar sports drink to replenish electrolytes for double digit runs.
Slather on sunscreen – I’ll confess that I rarely wear sunscreen in the winter (then again, I’m 99% covered up), but I never skip sunscreen in the summer. Tans are awesome, but burns are no fun :(
Be flexible about your runs – On Sunday, I take a look at the weather forecast for the week and move around my runs to either avoid really hot weather (take a rest day) or move my easy runs to the hot days. If I can’t avoid bad/hot weather, I’ll move my important workouts indoors so I can hit the required paces.
Adjust your expectations – heat/ humidity will definitely affect your pacing; the common rule of thumb is that you’ll slow down 1.5-3% for every 10 degree jump over 55 degrees. For most easy runs, I don’t look at my watch at all (or set the screen to display my heart rate) and just run by effort level.
What’s the hottest temperature that you’ve run in?