The following is a repost from elite runner and Saucony Hurricanes racing member, Tina Muir. You can find more informative blogs for runners and endurance athletes from Tina by visiting her site at www.tinamuir.com.
It is that time of year; the temperatures are high and there is a very short window early in the morning before the heat soars. This can make running somewhat difficult, as the sun beaming down on your head and the heat waves wiggling on the asphalt; make you feel like an egg on a frying pan. Or is that just me?
A study that analyzed over 1.7 million people in marathons all over the world over the course of 10 years, found that air temperature had the biggest impact on running performance. There was a significant correlation of high temperatures with a decrease in performance in each of the 60 races analyzed.
This graph shows the difference in performances as a whole for Chicago marathon in 2002 and 2007, where temperatures were 5.4 °C (41.7°F) and 25°C (77°F) respectively. Paris temperatures in 2002 also show the impact of temperature as temperatures were 7.6°C (45.6°F) and 17.4°C (63.6°F).
You can clearly see that in 2007, when temperatures were higher, performances were impacted.
However, this time of year, it can be impossible to avoid the heat, especially on long runs, and race start times are set. What can be done to prepare for training in the heat? Here is my advice on how to handle running in the summer.
If possible, try to run/workout before the sun fully rises in the morning, or later in the evening as the sun is setting, to avoid the sun beating down on your head. If you have a long run, be sure to start early so you only have a short amount of time in the heat.
I try to run in the heat of the day once per week as preparation for races that are on exceptionally hot days, but all my other runs are done early in the morning.
If you must run/workout in the heat, it is best to go in covered areas as much as possible to limit the heat from the sun raising your body temperature even higher. Areas with tall trees are the best places to run in summer, as the trees block the sun, and therefore the heat.
When the sun is out, asphalt and other black surfaces will reflect the heat back up, making it even hotter. Try to stay on lighter colored surfaces, or grass as much as possible.
This is also a great opportunity to give your body a break from the pounding of hard surfaces.
Wear a hat to keep the sun off your face, again keeping you cooler, and providing a psychological boost.
It is also important to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses often. Especially when it is a clear day and there are plenty of reflective surfaces around the city/town.
This means wearing loose fitting, sweat wicking fabrics, that will pull the sweat from your body and onto the material. This will keep your body temperature down as it helps the effectiveness of sweating for cooling your body down.
Some people also believe it is better to wear a T-shirt in warm weather to take the sweat off your skin as it cannot evaporate fast enough.
Your muscles will warm up much faster as the temperature rises, which may reduce the amount of time you want to spend running beforehand to prevent overheating.
Accept that running/training in the heat is much more strenuous on your body, as its priority is to keep your internal body temperature constant, therefore your performance becomes secondary. You will likely feel as though you are working much harder to run a slower pace, that is okay, everyone else is in the same position.
Even if you have multiple workouts in the heat, you will not lose fitness because once the temperature does drop, your body will be much more efficient. Think of all those fall races where you will be able to fly!
This helps to lower your body temperature prior to a race/workout. This is only temporary, but can relieve some of the psychological stress heat brings.
I actually used this one when I raced in Texas, and found it was very helpful.
If you are in a longer race where you have access to water cups, drink as much as you can, and dump the rest over your head. You guessed it....this helps reduce your body temperature, and feels very refreshing!
This is THE MOST important of all. You will sweat a lot more in the summer, and will need to replenish that water as soon as possible. Weigh yourself (naked) before you run/workout, and then weigh yourself (naked again) when you return. The weight you lost during the workout is how much liquid you need to consume. On hot days you will also have to replenish your electrolytes. This is where I love to use Enduropacks to spray into any drink. Continue to drink lots of water until your pee is completely clear.
We need to hydrate. But how can you hydrate and replace electrolytes without the harmful additives like sweeteners and artificial flavoring common in sports drinks that are harsh on your stomach?