With today's temps approaching 100, I am almost giddy with excitement about running outside. After work. Today. Yeah, you heard me right. I actually want to go run outside in the heat.
Let me preface this post by saying I'm not a registered, certified, anything. What works for me might not work for you. I do know however, that I am very in tune with my body and know my limits. I also know that hitting specific splits or pace or mileage in this heat is silly. I would never sacrifice my health for a workout. Ever.
Running in the heat is hard. Heart rate is elevated, you're sweating more which means you need more sodium-potassium-magnesium intake (to replace what's lost), and your pace is (or should be) much slower. It's frustrating, it's difficult, (I think) it makes you stronger.
Back 12-13 years ago I was running high school cross country in Florida. 90% of our runs took place after school during the hottest part of the day. I remember slogging through the ungodly "long distance" of 6 miles numerous times at 4pm when it was 95+ out and probably hotter on the pavement where we ran. I remember doing super fast 400's-1600's when it was so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. This was all before GU, salt tabs, and all that fancy stuff and knowledge we have now. All I had was Gatorade and cytomax (before it became tasty). Did I push too hard at times? Absolutely. Did running in the heat kill me? No. Did running in the heat make me stronger? Yes. Waiting at the start of an early morning meet when it was a "cool" 75 degrees was super refreshing, and I felt more prepared to run in the cooler temps because of the hotter temps.
(from last weeks Chicago women's half where it was 80+ by the end, I'm in the middle)
So how did I get negative splits and finish strong in the heat last week for the Chicago women's half marathon?
Here's what I did/ am doing to get acclimated to the heat:
•Run in the heat. You can't get used to it if you're logging miles on the treadmill in the climate controlled gym or super early in the morning all of the time. This is where I failed last year. Sorry, BFF treadie.
•I take a salt tab before heading out for a roasty toasty run. I take another when I come home sometimes too. (and a few during long runs when I take GU)
•Mango salt electrolyte strips. Made by "enlyten" I need to find more of these. I like the strips because I can't always manage to swallow the large salt pills.
•I drink at the water fountains (even if just a sip or 2) before I get thirsty. Plus I know where they are all located at on the path (almost every 1/4 - 1/2 mile) which helps.
•I wear lose fitting light clothing. Sunscreen is a must also.
•I weigh myself before and immediately after each run to see how much I lost to determine if I drank enough. And to see what correlation I have to feeling good/ crappy vs lbs lost during the run.
•Fully embrace that the pace will be much slower than if it was 30 degrees cooler. The effort might be the same however.
•If I have to stop and walk, I do. No shame in staying healthy and avoiding heat exhaustion. This is when I usually start taking photos of my surroundings. (I usually snap a few photos on my longer easier runs anyways)
• No matters how awful running in the heat is, I remind myself that come September for my marathon, if the temps are an ideal 50 degrees, I will feel like a rock star on the course since I was somewhat accustomed to running in much hotter conditions.
This is what I have found that works for me which may or may not work for you. It's definitely the native Floridian inside of me that says "no big deal" when it comes to running in the heat. Which ends up being a big deal because of all the extra precautions I take when doing so.