Summer Running-Yikes or Spikes?
Living in Miami is awesome, winters are perfect and never too cold. You're actually thankful for the 2 days you can ware boots.
But summer baby. It is HOT and HUMID. Most days we range from 85 to 95 degrees with anywhere from 70-100% humidity. It literally feels like you're swimming, oh and don't forget we live in one of the most southern points of the US, closest to the equator and high UV rays. If I'm being honest, I hate running in summers here, every workout is significantly harder. It's funny I was reading an article from Strength Running and mentioned "I was talking to another runner about a race se ran in Miami. She was lucky to meet Kara Goucher and Shlane Flanagan (two pro distance runners), who told her: “I’ll take running at altitude over running in Miami any day!”
But training in these crazy temps can actually provide some awesome benefits if you train appropriately. Yes, your body can adapt, but you have to be smart. There are often races I feel I have an advantage because my body is used to such a beat down. But it also comes with some changes in expectations.
1. Slow down. It's tough right? You have a plan written in front of you. You see the times you're supposed to hit to help you reach your goal. Then you head out the door and it hits, heat, humidity, sun, you're dying at those paces. Right off the bat friends, slow down! Go in with that expectation, the father the workout or the faster it is the more the heat will affect you. Relax, take a deep breath, and slow your pace. You'll notice you'll do just as well race day even if your times in practice aren't there. You will be exerting the same amount of effort at a slower pace and that's A-OK.
2. Hydrate. With more than Water. This was one of my biggest challenges moving down here. I was used to running 10 miles without a water stop if I was appropriately hydrated before hand. We moved down to Miami and I can't make it 6 miles without something. I also wasn't big on sports drinks. I don't love the added sugars and colors, but man when humidity and heat is up, you have to replenish those electrolytes from all the sweat rolling off your body. They also have made huge improvements with supplements now-Nuun Hydration is my all time favorite and it has no added sugars and only 7 calories per tablet. Awesome! Being that you're sweating more cramps will come and they can come strong if you're not properly hydrated. That being said in hot temps hydrate on your run at least every 30 minutes (4-8oz of fluid). Also, hydrate more during the day. It will keep you from getting dehydrated on your run. Also, plan for water stops, don't pick a route with no water-be wise, you may need it even if you didn't plan for it.
3. If you live in a place like Miami, try and beat the sun and not run at peak heat of the day. Choose a morning or evening run when the sun is not as strong and temps are not as high. Miami is hard, it's hot all day. Most days the temperature may only differ about 5 degrees, but avoiding the sun and it's strong UV rays can keep you from dehydration, fatigue, and sunburn. Yes, training in the heat can provide some amazing adaptations, but you still want to be smart. Running at the peak heat and sun of the day is not always safe and no matter how smart you are can come with some serious risks like heat stroke. Be smart.
4. Find shade. If you have a long run, find a route with lots of shade. Temps differ up to 10 degrees in the shade and it can make a huge difference on your run. Trust me. If you have a long run or faster run try to avoid direct sunlight and pick shady routes. If you live in a city the asphalt attracts the sun, it's best to stay off them.
5. Wear tight clothing! This is KEY, especially if it's humid. Chaffing is REAL. I never chaffed until I moved to Miami and wearing the wrong clothing can make shower time very painful. Most chaffing occurs under the arms, in between the legs, at the bra line on for men on their nips. Chaffing can happen skin to skin or clothing to skin. If your clothing is too lose chaffing is a high probability, but also be careful if it's too tight-the wrong bra can dig into your skin. Fitted shorts and tanks can help clothing from sticky and rubbing your skin. I have learned this the hard way. Also choose light clothing, pop on a light colored hat, wear sunglasses and sunscreen. Protect your skin!
6. Be patient. According to Runner's World, "it takes 8-14 days to adjust to the heat." It's amazing our bodies can adapt so quickly, but be patient as your body does adapt and if temperatures continue to rise remember you're body will be adjusting. Don't go to hard too soon, it's not worth the risk or heat exhaustion or heat stroke, when you'll be recovering for much longer than you wish.
It's pretty amazing the heat can help, but you have to smart. It can be dangerous without the right precautions. Now go out. Run Fast. Dream Big, Don't Look Back.