Hot and Bothered

With summer almost upon us (and 2 days into my heat training), I thought I’d do a little reading up on the craziness that is running in the summer heat. Here in Las Vegas, the heat is intimidating. While we have little to no humidity, we have a little thing called the UV index, which can totally ruin your day if you don’t make accommodations for it. The sun here is intense.

In New York, where I ran most of my runs last summer, it gets hot too. Worse, it gets humid. I recall plenty of runs at 90+ degrees with almost 90 percent humidity. That’s a hot, wet blanket of a run.

Ideal temps for running range from 45 to 55 degrees F. Get much colder or warmer than that, and performance starts to drop fairly quickly.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when heading out in the heat:

1. Train hot. Run training in hot conditions will produce physiological accommodations to heat that include an increase in blood plasma volume, a decrease in the amount of salt lost in sweat, reduced heart rate for the conditions, and increased sweating (which may evaporate before you notice it, so pay attention to your hydration).

2. Dress light. Wear light colors, moisture-wicking tech fabrics, and as few clothes as possible without getting taken into custody. (Make sure to cover exposed skin with a heavy-duty sunblock.)

3. Hydrate, but don’t overdo it. Sip (don’t chug-a-lug) water when you feel thirsty, probably every 15 minutes or so. The colder your water, the better to help keep your core temperature down. Does your route pass a convenience store that sells slushies? Bonus!

4. Mind your electrolytes. Take a salt tab, a sodium-fortified sports beverage, or just eat something with salt every few miles. I like Hammer’s Endurolytes.

5. Be fashionably early or late.  Unless you are specifically training to race in hot weather, try to avoid the hottest, sunniest parts of the day. Go out early, predawn if necessary, or late, post sunset. Wear reflectors and carry enough water–even if it feels cool, it may get warm quickly out there.

Do you have suggestions for other ways to manage hot-weather training? Share them in a comment!

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