Now that I've reintroduced speed work over the last few weeks, the heat has been brutal. Running easy miles in 90° heat is much more manageable than doing a tempo or threshold workout in the same 90° weather (yowza)! The first few times I went out for a speed workout, I got burned with muscle cramps and signs of dehydration - this is usually a cramp just below my collar bone, or behind my rib. I'm feeling much better running in the heat since my first few attempts and wanted to share a few things I've done to help.
1 - Hydrate!
Obvious, right? My favorite hydration supplement is Nuun. It's low calorie, delicious, and easy to drink anywhere. I have tubes at work and in almost every bag I own. During the summer, my Nuun consumption increases a ton. If I know I'm running after work, I'll drink a Nuun Active about 2 hours before I get home to give me some extra potassium and sodium before my run. I also drink one as soon as I get back from my run to replace all of the electrolytes I've lost. I can't feel bad about drinking it because it's only 8 calories and 0 grams of sugar per tab versus the 150 calories and 35 grams of sugar (yikes) in a bottle of Gatorade. Save the sugar consumption for the ice cream, right?!
If I have a shorter run (less than 10 miles), I don't usually carry water with me. I am lucky to live near the beach where there are lots of water fountains though. Try planning a route that has water fountains or make sure to carry a smaller bottle with you. I like this Nathan QuickDraw bottle for my longer runs, but I also have a smaller Nike one for shorter runs that holds about 8 ounces of water (I couldn't find it for this picture :( !).
During races or long, tough speed workouts, I take this electrolyte supplement. I'm not really into supplements, and am very wary of them in general, but I've found success with these. I pop 5-6 of them with about 24 ounces of water 1-2 hours before a run and it keeps away the cramps that usually hit me at miles 20-22. I died hard because of cramps in my first 2 marathons. I started taking these and my next 3 marathons were consistent BQ's and no cramps (even in the heat of the LA Marathon and Vancouver Marathon).
2 - Wear a Hat!
And sunscreen! I'm grateful for longer hours of sunlight during the summer. It makes me feel more comfortable and safe while running, but it also means of lot of crinkled eyes and running into harsh rays when the sun begins to set or rise. I always make sure to wear a hat and sunscreen. I bought this Halo visor for my first marathon, and it is my go-to for races and super hot days because it lets the top of my head breathe and keeps sweat from dripping into my eyes. I use Neutrogena SPF 70 on my face and shoulders to prevent sunburns (and wrinkles :) ).
3 - Choose Appropriate Clothing
I am a minimalist. Shorty shorts and tanks are my fave, no matter what the weather. I'm not really comfortable wearing just my sports bra when running, but I'm all for it if it keeps you cool. The priority is not overheating to the point that you get heat stroke just so you can get a run in. It might be uncomfortable, but you are out there working your butt off, so let people admire it! I've come to realize it doesn't matter what people think about my body... something that came much more easily after I hit 30. If you're not comfy showing off those strong legs or shoulders, at least make sure your clothing is dri-fit and moisture wicking fabric. Maybe put some wet wash clothes in the freezer to put on your neck and head when you get back from your run to cool you down quickly.
4 - Slow Down
This will be easy physically as you have a tendency to slow down because of the effects heat has on your body. Mentally, it can be tough since speed work is where you test your training and try to hit certain paces to prep for a successful race day. I've been doing my easy paced runs at least 30 seconds slower than I would during the winter.
What techniques do you use to beat the heat?
Do you use supplements?