To enjoy running in summer, you need to manage the heat well. Or at least put all the chances on his side because it is not easy. If for many people running in the cold Quebec winter as I do seems crazy, I can tell you without hesitation that this is my favorite time to train. In winter, with the right equipment, you can manage it. Running in summer is another story. I will give you my tips today to continue training during the summer months. There are no miracle recipes, but a few ideas that, when put together, can minimize the impact of heat.
1- Running in summer in the morning in the cool of the morning
This trick requires motivation because for many people to get up earlier to go running is a punishment. Yet, as morning runners will tell you, running in summer with morning dew and a quiet city is a great way to start your day. Generally when I start my day with a run, I feel more awake, more fit for the rest of the day! For more information on this subject, you can read my article on fasting in the morning. In addition to running on an empty stomach has other interesting advantages that I quote you in the article, so we would be wrong to deprive ourselves of them!
2- Running when it is hot to get used to it
This advice may seem counter-intuitive, and it is not for everyone. I am talking here to those who have summer objectives. Running in summer in competition can be very difficult if you are not ready. For example, I have several duathlons that will start... at noon. Since you don't choose the weather on the day of your competition, it's better to prepare for the worst.
And the body has the ability to adapt to external conditions if we regularly encounter them. For that, I gradually manage to run when it is hot. I'm not talking about going at noon on a hot day from the beginning, of course! But finding a balance: running only in the cool and competing in the heat... it would be very complicated! you have to try to deal with this heat so that the body can get used to it. Ideally, with a light jog at the beginning to avoid stressing the body on several levels at the same time! And by dint of doing that longer or on more intense sessions!
3- Lift your foot when running in the heat
However, running in summer is smart running. Body heat is automatically regulated by our body through sweat. When it is too hot, especially if the weather is humid, the body is not able to cool down effectively. Any excessive overheating would be both prohibitive for your performance and could be a problem for your health... So agree to reduce the pace on a hot day, whether it is a jog, a fraction or... a competition...
Always difficult to accept but when you want to run a competition in summer, you take the risk of a hot day and you have to deal with it. If short efforts can be problematic, I am thinking in particular of long efforts longer than 1h30, adapt your pace accordingly from the beginning and not only once you are in the hard place!
By the way, running when it's hot is automatically lowering your performance! It's physiological, you don't have a choice, so accept it! Even if you are prepared for it, there is nothing you can do about it. The body sends part of the blood it has available under the skin to make us sweat. The blood that is used for this process is not used to transport oxygen to muscles for example and we are therefore limited in our performance. There is no point in trying to beat a record on a hot day, it will be in vain!
4- Running in summer means cooling down at all costs!
To continue in the logic of the previous point, in summer, all means are good to cool down when running. Usually, I wet myself with fresh water before I even start running to cool down as much as possible. During a training in high heat, I stay to turn in the park next to my house where there are 2 fountains. One every 1.5km and I take a few seconds to spray myself every time I pass in front.
Same principle in the race. I had mentioned it in my report of the Paris Marathon, I used ALL the supplies without exception, from the first time it was still cool, to maintain a normal body temperature. It's not once you get too hot that you have to deal with it, it's already too late... And then we saw it, our body is able to manage the cooling itself... but it's paid for on performance! So by 15 degrees as by 30 degrees, helping your body not to heat up is important!
5- Hydration is essential in summer
The same principle applies to hydration. When you're thirsty, it's too late, it's because you're already dehydrated... So you have to start drinking... before you even run. The hydration of the runner is important all the time, I'm telling you about it here. But when it's hot, you sweat a lot more so it becomes essential. Be sure to drink regularly on training days to leave with "full refills".
Then, if you go running in a place that contains fountains, enjoy it. Otherwise, it is a good idea to bring a hydration drink with you, especially on outings longer than 45'. Drink 2 sips every 15'. Sweat contains much more than water, so having a hydration drink loaded with mineral salts is more than interesting. Especially for people like me who lose salts faster than average. In this case, a little extra salt should be added to the traditional hydration drinks. Being short of mineral salts is as dangerous as being dehydrated.
When choosing your hydration drink, there are two types. Sweet or unsweetened. For an outing until 1h15, I would rather recommend the unsweetened version, I use the Gü hydration tablets for that. If the effort is more intense or lasts more than 1 hour and 15 minutes, you can switch to the sweet version which will allow you to have an energy supply at the same time as your hydration.
6- Running in summer with adapted equipment
A few years ago, I would have said here to favour technical textiles and not cotton t-shirts to go running in summer. Today this fundamental point has become normal for 95% of runners. However, with technological developments, even technical t-shirts have evolved. Some fabrics today are extremely thin, allowing them to dry very quickly and never feel unpleasantly damp.
This is especially true for Nike tankers and their Dri-Fit. I now use mine (collector team Canada version as you can see below) as soon as the temperature reaches peaks, you can find equivalents here for men and here for women. The same goes for the shorts, still at Nike, where I really appreciated the new ultra-light belt. It holds well while being breathable. You can find this range of men's and women's shorts here.
Some accessories that can also help you? A cap to protect your head from the sun when it hits. You can even put water in it regularly to refresh yourself. A visor that prevents sweat from running into your eyes... Just like a good pair of sports glasses. They will also have a protective effect on the eyes but I won't teach you much with that!
7- Running in summer... but not only !
I regularly praise the value of cross-training to improve in running. Well, this way of training by mixing different sports has a significant advantage in summer: work on your general endurance without getting hot. I'm not telling you that you won't get hot at all on your bike. I had a 2-hour outing last Saturday through a 38-degree feeling. I came back with my sweat-soaked suit and salt scabs everywhere (I told you I was losing a lot of mineral salts!).
However, I didn't have the feeling that I wasn't able to train. 38 degrees running, at the end of 5′ I'm at the end of it and no longer capable of anything at all... But then, I did a big session that went very well. Because the wind factor changes everything. The air circulates much more with the speed of a bicycle and this helps to keep an acceptable body temperature. If for me cycling is a blessing in summer so that I don't just run (I cut my running volume in half and double my bike volume compared to the rest of the year), you can also swim or hike for example! Running in summer is good, but it's also the best time to diversify a little!
8- Make your annual break
A last option for those who don't want to bother running in the heat in the summer: make your annual break at that time. This is not a miracle solution because I recommend (see here my article on the annual break) to make an annual break of only 2 weeks to avoid losing the benefits of your past training. But, knowing that the annual post-cut recovery is slight and very gradual, you will strongly limit the number of exits in the heat by making your annual cut in summer! I have long worked like that, it also allows you to enjoy the sunny days in a way other than by training!
In short, running in summer is not a problem!
For the last two years I have only cycled in the summer, not tolerating the heat. By working on this article for a few weeks I convinced myself that running this summer would be possible. I told you, I don't like running in the heat! I still don't tell you that this is my favorite season and I clearly wouldn't do a marathon preparation in the middle of summer. In any case, don't train too much in running if you hate running in summer, as I often say, the pleasure of running first and foremost! So convinced? Are you going to run this summer? Did you learn anything?