Like most years, summer rolls around and it is hot. It’s hot out here today 94 headed towards 98. Hopefully, I’m doing okay as I shoot this video as I’m hanging out in the shade. Now, you know it’s hot when it comes to summer, and you try to avoid the heat the best you can. Sometimes that means running in the morning. But other times that means just running in the heat. And sometimes that morning is hot anyway. So, what do you do? Well, I’m Jesse Funk. And today on this episode of Runner’s High, I’m going to share with you some do’s and don’ts for running in the heat.
So, – you feel yourself running in the heat in the middle of summer, you want to know what to do? Well, my first tip is should be the most obvious is don’t run in the heat if you don’t have to. Now this is kind of a duh thing, you’re trying to avoid the heat. But you know if like today, it’s going to be almost 100 here, don’t go out when it’s 100. Go out in the morning, try to avoid it the best you can. And that may mean waking up early before the sun’s even up. I can’t point to any scientific evidence, but at least anecdotally, I know I feel better if I’m running in the morning before the sun’s up.
I don’t have the additional heat from the sun on my skin even if it’s 80 before the sun’s up, 80 before the sun’s up versus 80 when the sun is up feels a lot different. You wouldn’t be watching this video if you didn’t want some actual tips on how to acclimate to the heat. So, now that we’ve got the dumb one out of the way, the duh, the obvious, what can you do, and I wanted to make a decision do acclimate to the heat over a period of time.
Now, in my talk with Chris Lundstrom, the head coach of Team USA Minnesota, I asked him about what can we do with all this heat, how do we acclimate to this heat? And he says his runners, he hasn’t acclimate to the heat for various races. And often he sees some kind of acclimation in about two or three days. But most of the acclimation comes in a two to three week period. So, it’s going to take some time to actually get ready to really run in the heat at optimal efficiency. Now, you’re still not going to run your best performances in the heat, but you’re going to be more ready to deal with it if you spend the time to acclimate.
So, what can you actually do to acclimate to the heat? Well, when I was talking to Chris on the smart athlete podcast, he made a suggestion for if you’re going from cold to hot. So, he’s training with his athletes in Minnesota, and sometimes they’re going from a cold climate in February to a hot climate to race. So, he has his athletes train with two to three layers of clothes on to try to do that heat acclimation in the middle of winter. But for most of us, it’s hot out, it’s hot during the summer, we’re dealing with it all the time. We’re not doing a winter to summer acclamation. So, what can you do? And I’m going to make two suggestions here, two protocols to adjust over that two to three week period.
The first one is going to be adjust slowly your time of day when you’re running. This isn’t going to be for everybody but if you can go from that, you know, before sunrise run and slowly move up the time where you’re running into the afternoon so you can get adjusted to the heat change throughout the day. And this means say you’re going out for an hour run, you can take that hour run, run in the morning, run at mid-morning, run at afternoon, late afternoon, and use that over two to three week period to help you adjust.
The other option and this is probably what’s going to happen with you is you’re dealing with running in the afternoon or running after you get off work and it is super hot and may be muggy. Like here in the Midwest, it’s hot and humid, which makes it worse. And say that run again, what can you do if you have a fixed time you can run, you can’t adjust it, you don’t have that freedom? Well, this may hurt you to hear it a little bit, but you need to back off. Take that hour run and say start with a 20 minute run in the middle of that heat, and then bump it up to 30 and bump it up to 40. And gradually build back into that full hour during that hot period of the day so that your body has time to adjust and can attenuate to that heat over a longer period of time.
My next don’t is don’t try to cram in a bunch of water right before you go run. And this should be obvious but sometimes we have to get prepared at the last minute and we think oh, this is the solution. It’s not. What you want to do is take it over a longer period of time. Focus on your hydration for an entire week, you know, day by day, making sure you’re taking in enough to keep you going all the time, not just before the run. What happens is, if you try to binge all that water right before run, not only are you going to feel terrible because you can all this water sloshing around your stomach.
But your systems in your body are going to flush a lot of that water out. Meaning you’re going to need to take pee breaks on that run a bunch compared to if you had hydrated properly and your body had the time to absorb that water. If you’re like my friend, Pat who trains for marathons and ultras, then you may be out for hours and hours at a time. This is something that’s a little bit different than those of us that are only maybe out for an hour or maybe an hour and a half. If you’re out 2, 3, 4 hours at a time, then is probably smart for you to take a water backpack with you, have that water on you.
Now, if you don’t want to buy water backpack, the other option is to make looped runs. So, wherever your house is, wherever your home base is, set up water, it’s ready for you to go whether it’s in the fridge, or you have a cooler or something at the gym, whatever it is, make a loop and say okay, I’m going out for 10 miles run, I’m going to make three mile loops, so that you can come back and get that hydration each lap instead of waiting to the end, being dehydrated, and then trying to cram it all in afterwards. Nutrition comes into play for those longer runs as well, but I’ll cover that in a different video, we just want to talk about hydration today.
My last do for today is do adjust your times for the heat. So, we always use this really rule of thumb and it is just that, it’s a rule of thumb. I don’t know that it came from any particular scientific study. I love to be evidence based. But again, this is just our rule of thumb is any degree Fahrenheit over 60, you want to adjust your run times one second per minute per mile. So, what does that mean? For most of us between 60 and 70, it’s not really relevant. But as we get over 70, and say we get to 80 if you run eight minute miles, then you’re going to add 20 seconds, you’re going to be using eight 20 minute miles at your guide for the same kind of effort.
And again, this is kind of an upper limit, a maximum that you want to go for to be hitting the same kind of effort. If you watch my heart rate training video, then you know a little bit about checking your heart rate to verify your effort. You can also use that heart rate method to figure out okay, am I going the same effort as I would at other paces in cooler temperatures. The heat makes heart rate drift much, much more common and you can’t go as fast. So, you have to be okay with not being as fast in the heat. It’s just not going to happen. Even after you acclimate, it takes a toll out of you.
So, what are your tips that I didn’t cover today that you can share with other runners? What do you do to acclimate to the heat? Leave them down in the comments below. Let me know what do you do to acclimate to the heat. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.