Hot weather is the most common challenge you will face as a runner in preparing for your event. No matter if it is a short lived heat wave or you live in a climate with high temperatures for long portions of the year, the heat presents unique challenges for runners of all abilities. It is particularly difficult when hot weather occurs at a sudden onset early in the summer or after a period of cooler weather.
While you will always have challenges running in the heat, it is even more difficult when you are not acclimated to it.
Running in Hot Weather
It can take up to 7 days to acclimate to a large climate change in your running. Think not only of hot weather in the summer, but if you are training during the winter for an event that will take place in the Spring when the chance of the first hot day occurring on your race day exists (think Boston Marathon 2012) or if you are training for a winter race in cold weather that will take place in a warm climate such as the Disney Half and Full Marathons in January in Orlando, FL.
These are all examples of situations that can derail your running if you aren’t adequately prepared. Running in the heat and humidity can put you at increased risk for dehydration, heat stroke and other heat related illnesses. Common sense is the key to avoiding problems when running in hot weather.
Here are some of the keys to running in hot weather that I present within the Runner Academy Membership area. Join today for more tips on training in hot weather along with cold weather, rain, snow or whatever mother nature throws at you!
1. Stay Hydrated
This is a no brainer, but what does staying hydrated really mean? It actually begins before you head out running and regardless of weather. As a runner you should be aiming to consume at least 64 ounces of water per day to maintain a good level of hydration. This will take some time to get your body used to. If hot weather is immediately imminent hydrate as often as you can during the entire day in advance of your run, the day of your run and after your run. When you head out running you want your body to already be hydrated, rather than downing a lot of fluid just before heading out.
While out running maintain at least the following levels of fluid intake:
Following the above guidelines will help you remember to consume fluids properly, at proper intervals, and replacing what you need. You should not become thirsty when running. If you have signs of thirst, consume more water immediately. You should drink evenly throughout your run to avoid ever being thirsty and to maintain proper hydration.
2. Don’t Over Hydrate
The hydration guide above is what you should be taking in at a minimum. You should take in more if you need it, but you want to avoid over-hydration. This is a dangerous condition that runners can develop by taking in large quantities of water. Over-hydration occurs when the body takes in more water than it excretes through sweat or urine and its normal sodium level is diluted. It can lead to cramping, nausea, dizziness and in extreme cases seizure. A similar condition can develop if you do not replace your sodium and electrolytes lost through sweat by drinking water exclusively on long runs. You want to drink evenly throughout your run to avoid this condition.
Again, the above hydration guidelines are for runs of 5-7 miles or 90 minutes, whichever comes first.