It’s early spring, which means some of us are still experiencing snowfall while others are watching flowers bloom. Either way, we know that summer is just around the corner and temperatures will be increasing. Whether or not you prefer running in the heat, it takes a bigger toll on your body than milder weather. Let’s talk about what happens during heat training and what you can do to prepare.
Temperature’s Effect on your Running
Ideal training temperatures for most lie in the low 50s. As that number increases, performance degradation happens quickly. At 75 degrees, athletes experience a 7% decrease in performance. At 85 degrees, that jumps to a 10% decrease. Our heart rates are higher in the heat, so a runner’s max heart rate will be reached at a slower training pace. While your cardiovascular system is working hard, your watch might not be showing the times you were hitting in the fall. Along with hot days comes humidity, which makes sweating harder. Sweating is the body’s main cooling mechanism, and humidity slows down sweat evaporation.
Those of us who have run through hot summers know that acclimation happens. Fall marathoners will tell you that summer is a great time to get very strong. If you can hit your goal paces in July, you will be able to surpass them at the same level of fitness when temperatures fall.
Habits for Summer Running
Besides acclimation, there are habits to form now to set you up for successful summer running.
- Make sure to wear running clothes made of thin, moisture wicking materials. Cotton t-shirts will hinder your ability to sweat.
- Skin injuries also make sweating challenging, so start wearing sunscreen now to avoid burning.
- Track water intake now and make sure you are getting an adequate amount.
- Keep an eye on temperatures, and increase your daily water as the thermometer rises. Consider adding in a daily electrolyte drink.
- Finally, nothing beats a strong base. If you head into the summer months with good base fitness, your cardiovascular system won’t be as strained as it would have otherwise.
Summer might slow us down, but with a little preparation and patience, you can acclimate to the heat. The earlier we plan, the more enjoyable those hot miles will be. Bring on the sunshine!