Summer is, by far, my favorite season. Call me strange but I love running and biking in the heat. Something about the sun shining and the extra sweat dripping from my body motivates me and pushes me to a new level. But whether you love this hot weather training or you’re just trying to survive it until cooler weather comes, there are some necessary measures to take and keep in mind:
- Use the pre-cooling technique. This is actually something I learned about many years ago, the theory of dropping your body temperature BEFORE you head out the door for your run. There are various methods, but an easy one is taking a cold shower or ice bath pre-run. Research has shown that cooling your body beforehand leads to better performance in hot environments. Pretty cool, huh?
- Stay hydrated. Sweating is a good thing. To help your sweat system do its job better, you need to drink throughout your hot weather workout.
- Build up to it. Interestingly, the fitter you are, the better your body can tolerate a hot weather workout. So, by increasing your fitness level you’ll also be increasing your tolerance for that hot run. You can also acclimatize yourself to the hot weather by adjusting your intensity. For your first hot weather session, cut your intensity by 65 to 75 percent. Then, each day over the next 10 days, slowly build back to your normal intensity.
- Dress to sweat. For your body to cool itself it needs to sweat (see number 2 above). Wear clothes designed for your sport that aren’t too tight—as in loose is better!—and are made from moisture-wicking fabrics. These fabrics soak up sweat from your skin and transfer it to its outer surface to evaporate. It’s also best to wear light colors that reflect the sun.
- Listen to your body! If you are experiencing fatigue, discomfort, lightheadedness, cessation of sweating, disorientation, or nausea while exercising in the heat, stop immediately and seek a cool environment as quickly as possible. These are all signs and symptoms of heat illness and should not be taken lightly. If they persist, seek medical attention right away.
I didn’t make this a bullet point but I feel I have to say it anyway—apply sunscreen! Hot, sun-shiny days mean you can get fried in a matter of only a few minutes. Blistering skin and extreme redness are not fashionable any time of year. Seriously though, sun damage and skin cancer are very real threats and should not be taken lightly. So lather up on sunscreen even on those cloudy days.
If you’re like me, embrace these hot weather days knowing that they will only last so long. And, if you dislike the heat, know that these days only last so long! Before we know it we’ll be back to shoveling snow—something I hope doesn’t happen until December! 😉 💜
Happy hot weather training!
Ps. Let me know in the comments if you love or hate a hot weather workout!