Running in the heat: How to deal when you stink at it

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It’s Marathon Monday.  Which means I owe ya’ll a little run down of my previous week of training. And we’ll get to that.  Tomorrow.  But in a word my week was…….SWEATY.  Look.  I don’t want to constantly cry and whine and moan about the heat but it’s a for real struggle right now for a lot of people training for a fall marathon.  I’ve seen tons of posts on how to train through the heat, all with fantastic tips and tricks to beating the summer struggles.  But, what do you do when you have a body that just doesn’t perform well in the heat? What then?  What if you avoid long distance training in the summer due to health reasons or an overall dislike for heat?  Here are some tips for those of you who are struggling right now.  Because the truth is, as hot as it is, all bodies are not created equal when it comes to running in the heat.  Some runner’s say they struggle and still crank out PR’s and such.  That ain’t me.  I’m struggling and I know I’m not alone.  So, let’s cover some basics and some things I’m using to help me out through the summer heat.

HYDRATE

Ok.  So clearly you will see this on ALL summer running tips posts.  But I can’t not say it.  People. Please drink.  It will make or break you as a runner as it is, but in the summer heat and humidity when you are losing fluid and salt, it is crucial.  And don’t just hydrate the night before you run or around a long run.  Do it all the time.  Bring a large water bottle with you all day long.  Watch the color of your pee and make sure it’s a light yellow.  Use electrolyte replacements in addition to water.  I love Nuun but Cocogo is another great option.

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Coconut water is another fantastic option….

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If you can stand the taste, coconut water is great for keeping you hydrated with less sugar and more potassium than sports drinks.  It’s natural and good, but it does have about 60 calories per serving so use with caution and as an electrolyte replacement, not a drink all the time every day drink.  Also, if you are running more than 2-3 hours you need easily absorbed carbohydrates so this would not be a fueling option, just a hydration one.

CHAFING

It’s a for real issue ya’ll.  When you are soaking wet by mile 2, there needs to be an intervention.  So, I put Glide all over my feet and in between my thighs.  I’m sort of mortified that I’m actually typing that to put on the internet, but people, happy inner thigh’s and toes make for a happy runner.  Wet leggings or shorts can cause some major discomfort.  Plus, wet sweaty feet can cause blister’s.  Glide is my miracle cure for keeping all these issues at bay.

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I also love my Injinji toe socks.  They protect your toes from blister’s and work wonder’s for my feet during long distance running.

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Pacing

Ok so here’s the deal.   I have allergies.  And asthma.  So, the heat and humidity is my downfall as a runner.  Running in cold crisp air that opens up my lungs is so much better for me. I run faster in the winter and slower in the summer. The humidity here is high, which means sweat evaporates slower, meaning your body doesn’t cool as efficiently.  When your body isn’t cooling it’s working harder to sustain a certain effort.  Running Times says it this way,

“Furthermore, both temperature and humidity increase heart rate and amplify these effects. At 60 to 75 degrees, heart rate increases by two to four beats per minute. From 75 to 90 degrees, heart rate increases up to 10 beats per minute, and humidity increases it even more. Perceived effort is accordingly much greater as both the temperature and the humidity rise.”

So there you go.  Slow down.  Maybe you’re like a lizard and you thrive in the heat and feel your heart rate is controlled and your body cools itself well.  Or maybe your like me.  2 miles in feeling hot(even though I’m VERY well hydrated) and struggling with my breathing and to keep my heart rate low.  So, I slow down.  Give yourself some grace.  No need to be a superhero on your run.  Wear a heart rate monitor to keep yourself accountable and don’t feel shame if your run is “slow.”  Accomplish the distance and move it inside to the treadmill if you have to put out a hard effort and simply can’t do it in the heat.  IT’S OK.  Grace is where it’s at.

Breathing

I have exercise induced asthma and allergies and a severely deviated septum.  Which means I can’t breath through my nose.  So, I have to come up with ways to control my breath when I run.  It’s taken a TON of work.  It doesn’t come naturally.  Sometimes I feel like I have an elephant on my chest, especially when the humidity is high, and it doesn’t always matter how great a shape I’m in.  It’s. Just. Hard.  I have an inhaler but it’s hard to carry on a run.  I’ve discovered essential oils and LOVE them.  I haven’t jumped on board full throttle but what I’ve used has been effective for me.  I use the Doterra Breathe before a run.  I put a little on my cheek bones and on my chest.  Then I take a huge sniff before I walk out the door and it helps a ton.  Just a thought if you struggle with breathing.

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Cross Train

I’ve started taking some of my recovery miles and making them shorter so I have more time to cross train.  I think it’s making a huge difference in my training.  It allows me to use and challenge different muscles groups which builds the strength your body needs to run.  It also builds my  fast twitch muscle fiber’s(used in drills, sprinting, and short bursts of power) and anaerobic training(without oxygen, as in sprint’s or high intensity interval’s) as opposed to just being in an aerobic state all the time.  This helps your body’s different muscle fibers learn how to work together, improves running mechanics and helps you become more efficient.

Skipped my run in favor of arms, back and core on the ball and 150 Burpees (because I didn't want my boot camp girls doing them alone) in my garage in the 104 degree heat because there are painters in my house. They say with age comes wisdom. I think in my case I'm just getting dumber.

Skipped my run in favor of arms, back and core on the ball and 150 Burpees (because I didn’t want my boot camp girls doing them alone) in my garage in the 104 degree heat because there are painters in my house. They say with age comes wisdom. I think in my case I’m just getting dumber.

Burpees.  They’re where it’s at ya’ll.  Moving on.

Rest

Don’t be afraid to take an unplanned rest day.  Try not to be so married to a training plan that you compromise your health in the process.  It’s a guide.  It does not account for how your body handles certain situations, such as extreme heat.  We’re pushing 106 on some days right now with very high humidity.  That’s no joke.  So, I’ve taken plenty of unplanned rest days with no guilt attached.  As long as I hit my speed work, tempo run and long run for the week, I feel ok.

Alternate with the treadmill

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Some run’s I’ll split between outside and the treadmill.  I’ll go do 6 outside then come back and finish 4 or 5(or whatever my distance is for that day) on the treadmill if I’m struggling in the heat.  It’s a good way to change things up and give your lung’s a break and allow them to breathe some fresh cool air.  This may not be an option for you if you don’t have access to a treadmill, but if it is, I encourage you to take advantage.  I prefer running outside and I know the treadmill is boring, but compared to 106 degree heat, it’s pretty awesome.

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This is my face after a nice and cool treadmill run the other day.  Happy happy.

Light weight clothes

Ya’ll.  This is so important and makes a huge difference in training outside.  Once it gets this hot every little thing makes a difference, right down to the fabric of your top.  This is my favorite…

So, wear light weight wicking fabric that isn’t super tight on the skin.  Lose,  flowy and sheer.  It’s the way to go.  I like Capri’s even in the summer because things don’t rub.  I love my Kast fitness capri’s.

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Ya’ll.  I swear these pants.  They are AMAZING.  I can run in them in the extreme heat and not feel hot.  They don’t chafe or rub or bother me.  They just feel like part of my skin.  I know it seems crazy not to wear shorts(I wear them on short run’s) but when you’re running over an hour outside in the heat, I like things in their place.  Enough said.  Find Kast pants here.

Also cover your head with a visor instead of a hat.  This keeps your head nice and cool and allows it to let out some heat instead of it getting trapped under a hat.  I put a hat on yesterday and I had it off and on my belt after 2 miles.  My head just felt so hot and I immediately felt cooler when I took it off.  However, I had to put my head lamp on my head, which I hate.  I’d much rather have it resting on the rim of a visor, so next time I’ll grab my fave headsweats visor instead.

Alright so I feel like I’ve overloaded you with info and still probably left some things off.  These are my tips.  Things I’m doing to help myself out through the summer.  I’ll give you some more history this week in another post as to why I struggle in the heat but for now, enjoy the tips and please put them to use and be smart out there ya’ll.  It’s hot…

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90’s means cold front!!  Seriously our high’s have been around 102-106.  Colorado is looking really good right now.  Road trip anyone?  Happy Running!!!!!!

What are your favorite summer running tips and tricks??

Do you function well in the heat or do you struggle?  

 

 

 

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