If you've been training outside, you know it's been pretty swampy out there. Here are some obvious and not so obvious tips for running in the heat. Read through to the end for a link to my favorite hydration pack!
Run early or late. I've found the mornings to be ideal for me but there does seem to be a trade off for avoiding the sun. The humidity tends to be highest right before sunrise.
Hydrate. Not only hydrate well before, but consider bringing hydration with you or planning some stops along the way. For some, this might also mean having some electrolytes with you. This can depend on the person and the length of the run. If you're bonking early or cramping, you might want to consider bringing an electrolyte beverage with you.
Ice. Females have an advantage of being able to put some ice in their sports bras before the start of a run. You can also stuff ice in a bandana, under your hydration pack, or into your hat.
Plan Ahead. Hopefully all of you are well versed on the necessity of easy days. Look at the week ahead and try to plan your easiest runs or days off for the worst days. Save the hard track workout for a cooler day. Triathletes also have the advantage of being able to take their workout to the pool or trainer on the hottest days. Once again, look ahead and don't get stuck doing your hardest workout outside on the worst day.
Find the Shade. Just like running in the morning, the trails can be pretty humid but at least keep you out of the hot sun. It can also a little easier to ignore your pace while you're running on the trails, as well, allowing you to slow down to adapt to the heat.
THE NOT SO OBVIOUS
Use Heart Rate. Using heart rate makes it easier to slow down and not feel so defeated. If you're out there slogging away in the heat but your heart rate is in the same zone as your typical run, you can trust that you're putting in the same effort. The pay-off will show up when the weather cools. If you push too hard to try to maintain the same pace, you're increasing your chances of overtraining or getting injured.
Eat a Popsicle. Studies show that eating a popsicle before you run can lower your core temperature by 1-2 degrees. This has been shown to enhance performance. Try freezing your favorite sports beverage or find experiment with a popsicle that won't upset your stomach while you run or train.
Train With a Friend. This can be especially helpful during the hottest days of the year. Personally, I love to find a friend that will force me to get out of bed before sunrise. As we're running in the early morning, I like to grab the tree branches above us to shake the morning dew off the leaves and cool us down. We'll also joke about how a nice cool glacial lake is just around the corner waiting for us to jump in, although we have yet to actually find it in Delaware!
My favorite hydration pack! When I ran in college, we always ran a max of 90 minutes/13 miles and never carried water. Now, I not only run longer some times, but also don't tolerate being hot and thirsty as much. It took me a long time to find something that felt like NOTHING so I could replicate the way I've always run. In other words, I hate bouncing backpacks and hip belts that ride up to my ribs. I've finally found something that works for me. No bouncing. No chaffing. No added heat. I'm sure there are several hydration VESTS that offer the same but here's the one that works best for me!