Looking at the weather, we agree it isn’t summer yet. But it will (hopefully), so you better be ready. Here are some tips for you to make the most out of your summer workouts.
Embrace the necessary adjustments
Slow down – it’s inevitable in the heat! You body has to adapt the summer heat.
A mere 5F degrees rise above 60F can slow you down by 20 or 30 seconds per mile. In races, adjusting your pace to the high heat and humidity can actually help your performance relative to competition.
If you want to improve your performance in the heat, you should embrace that aspect in your trainings and simulate hot race conditions. Before long your body will be more efficient in that environment as it improves in adjusting to the rising core temperature.
Jump into the water
The pool is the natural complement for your summer work outs. Not only do pool work outs favored by runner avoiding or recovering from injuries, they are also perfect for the summer.
Even if you are a running “purist”, you can your runs in the water. You can wear a floatation belt to keep you upright, keep your body erect, and then push your legs against the water as if you were running. Base your intervals of “running” in water on your intervals of running on the road, and tweak them around so that you are maximizing your workout in the water.
Drinking electrolyte-packed sport drinks before (500 ml or 16 oz in the hour leading up to your work out) and frequently during your work outs (150 ml – 200 ml or 5 oz – 8 oz every half an hour) is key. That will help replace the H2O and electrolytes lost in sweat and keep your body ready to embrace the challenges posed by the heat and humidity.
Proper hydration will help prevent the following common illness caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Watch out for heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
The other extreme, excessive water intake, is also dangerous – it can cause abnormally low sodium levels in your blood, leading to hyponatremia (nausea and vomiting; headache; confusion; fatigue; restlessness and irritability; muscle weakness, spasms or cramps; seizures). Be sure of not drinking over 32 oz or 1000ml of water in an hour, and always choose sport drinks with electrolytes over water.
Protect yourself from the sun and heat
Running in the shade and away from the asphalt and concrete (both of which retain a lot of heat) will make your summer runs much more pleasant and safe. Given the longer days, running in the morning or evening enables you to avoid the blazing heat. Light-colored and light-weight apparels in microfiber polyester and cotton blends can help keep you cooled and enable you to avoid the common heat-related illness mentioned above.
Sunburns are another common unfortunate byproduct of summer runs. Avoid them by avoiding the mid-day sun, wearing a hat and even apparel that blocks UV rays, and using sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. For longer runs, you might need to bring sunscreen with you and reapply it every hour or so in order to maximize protection.
Now is go time!