5 Ways to Run Better in the Heat
With the temperatures sliding into the 80s in some parts of the country, Mother Nature is finally treating us to the perfect weather for all kinds of outdoor workouts. But as we're out surfing and swimming, our running shoes may be making their way further and further into the closet. Because let's face it: Hitting the pavement in June/July/August is a lot more of a struggle once the heat and humidity kick in.
No need to get discouraged. Even with these balmy conditions, there are ways to make the heat work for your run. We've tapped Atlanta-based running coach Carl Leivers to share his tips on keeping safe but still getting in a killer workout. Sweating profusely encouraged.
FIND A TEMPERATURE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Embarrassed that your run in 90 degree weather resembles a crawl in slow motion? Shake off the shame. "You need to remember that everyone is different, so it is going to be important to learn your own limits," says Leivers. Not everyone tolerates the heat the same way; this is why one person can breeze through miles in the desert in 100 degree temperatures, while another can barely make it around the block at 80 without feeling winded. You should push yourself, of course, but don't feel pressured to keep up with other runners — if you're feeling dizzy or nauseous, it's best to take a break.
DON'T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT PACE
Yes, we want our workouts to actually feel like something is happening, but if you're running a bit slower than you would say, on a crisp, October morning, it's completely normal. "I think the biggest thing to remember is that you will run slower in the heat," Leivers notes. "Instead of obsessing about your pace, you should base your running off your effort-level. Listen to your body and forget what the GPS says!"
DRINK. WATER. ALL. DAY.
It's easy to forget to sip fluids on a regular day, but if you plan on going on a run, it's really important to be diligent about downing water consistently beforehand. Leivers cautions that simply chugging a bottle of H2O right before isn't going to cut it. "Remember that hydration is an all-the-time thing. Depending on how long you're running, it may be important to bring water with you, but it's going to be much more important to be well-hydrated before you go run," he says. There isn't a hard formula, but guzzling about a glass an hour will ensure keep dehydration at bay.
YOU CAN'T SKIP WARM-UPS
The idea that heat outdoors will magically warm up your muscles is more of a fitness myth than reality. "Part of the warm-up is waking up your muscles, but part of it is also getting your energy systems working the right way, which isn't going to be accomplished by the heat," explains Leivers. When the temps soar, you can definitely abbreviate your warm up (do a shorter jog or fewer high knees and grapevines), but don't ditch it completely.
... AND COOLING DOWN IS PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANT
And we mean literally cooling down. "Drinking fluids, getting out of the sun, or a cool shower or dip in a pool are all effective in helping return your body temperature to normal post-exercise," says Leivers. Try his simple rehydrating trick: Weigh yourself before and after your run. For each pound you lost (which is all going to be sweat), aim to drink 16 ounces of water or sports drink, he suggests.
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