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running-in-heat

Running in the heat – is it OK and how to do it?

Summer is approaching and the temperature begins to rise. It feels so nice to run in warmer weather, isn’t it? Finally, you are throwing off all these layers, and planing your running gear for the day becomes much easier. The sun is filling you with energy and a good mood. However, there is one issue arising. What will happen with your run when you begin to train in the typical “hot summer” weather and how this is going to interfere with your running speed and effort. Here we will discuss why often it feels so difficult to run in the heat, the downside of running in the heat, the benefits of running in the heat, and some tips that can help you run in the heat.

Why does my run feel so hard in the heat?

This is a very common question in the running community. Running in the heat is a no joke and it requires some preparation. Generally speaking, when you run in the heat, it’s harder for your body to cool down and your body struggles more in comparison to running in the cool weather. Moreover, your body temperature rises as well and your body cannot function at normal levels, thus your performance starts to decrease. When we add the fact that runners often get dehydrated in the heat, the chances that you start to feel your run really difficult are high.

Can running in the heat become dangerous?

This is another very common question runners ask. The truth is that running in the heat CAN be hazardous and exercising in hot weather should be done with great caution. Runners should consider that if the temperature rises above 26-27 degrees Celsius they start to put themselves at a greater risk of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. During heat exhaustion, your body begins to feel sick and your performance is greatly impacted, and if you develop heatstroke( which is when your body temperature begins to be extremely high), you put yourself in danger of dying.

What can you potentially do to handle the heat better?

First, it is important to say that every runner will feel different in hot weather. Your body’s reaction to the heat depends on several factors. Your age, your sweat rate, and your personal acclimatization to the environment. Unfortunately, when you get older is harder for your body to handle the heat. If you sweat more than others, you can cool yourself better than the runners who sweat less, especially if you stay hydrated (sweat more= drink more). Moreover, you can get acclimatized by running in the heat. To get acclimatized well to the heat, it is important to start running by feel or effort and not focusing on your running splits. It’s completely normal to run slower when the temperature is high for the reasons we mentioned above. Give yourself some time, after few weeks your body will begin to adapt, and likely your running speed will improve again.

Are there any benefits of running in the heat?

Every runner knows that in order to grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone. To get faster we often have to add some stimulus to our training- sometimes this is more volume, longer intervals, hill workouts, training at altitude, or it can be training in the heat. As long as you are not reaching heat exhaustion (mind for dizziness, weakness, headache, and other symptoms of heat exhaustion), you can use heat as a tool to get better. Some common discussed training effects of running in the heat include:

  • increased plasma volume
  • decreased heart rate when exercising
  • lower core temperature
  • better running economy
  • higher oxygen consumption

All of these effects will help you run faster on your way to setting new PRs. (PersonalRecordS)

Tips of training in the heat

As we already mentioned, it is important to get used to the heat by giving your body a chance to acclimatize to the environment.
But there is more you can do to aid your body. One thing is to buy yourself running gear that allows your body to cool off better, so it is good to invest in clothes that dry fast and allow your skin to breathe. Another thing is to HYDRATE. This is extremely important during the heat. Do not just drink water but electrolytes as well because you lose them while you sweat. Lastly, if you are doing some track workouts, or you train around a loop, you can place a bag/ bucket of ice to cool yourself. As a woman, I used to put some ice in my sports bra during my college days because we were training often at more than 30 degrees Celsius. Another trick is to put some ice in your hat- it can save your day!

Although running in the heat can be dangerous, if done safely, you can absolutely benefit from it. Exercise with caution and make sure you have some tools to cool off your body and enough water+electrolytes to hydrate! Enjoy the summer!

 

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