Running in the 'Meda: Running in hot weather

Running in the 'Meda: Running in hot weather

Marty Beene

Photo by Marty Beene.

It was kind of hot here in The 'Meda earlier this week.

As those of you who actually live in Alameda already know, we don't get too many days when the temperature rises up over, say, 85 degrees. And most of those occur in the fall when our natural air conditioning (the fog) is on its annual autumn break.

For runners, heat can make training difficult. Even if it's only five degrees warmer than what we're used to, a training run can feel much harder.

So what can we do about it?

1. Train in the heat. That's right - don't shy away from warmer weather. Instead, run in the hottest part of the day. Or drive a short distance and run where it's warmer (to, say, Lake Chabot). The reason you would want to do this is that you can develop a tolerance for heat, as long as you take precautions while you're doing this (see below). When I worked down the Peninsula for several years, I ran in the middle of the day all through the year. In the summer, it was over 80 degrees every day, and I simply got used to the warmer temperatures after the first few weeks of that season.

2. Run slower. You might think that you're missing out on part of your training if you slow down because of the heat. But think about it: If it's hot, your body responds by increasing the various defenses against the mayhem that heat is causing. Your heart rate increases, you sweat more, you get more fatigued sooner. Aren't those the same responses when you're running fast in cooler temperatures? Your body thinks you're running faster than you are, so you're basically getting almost the same training benefits you would be getting at a faster pace.

3. Be hydrated. This usually goes without saying, but it's particularly important on hot days. You're going to sweat more, so you need more water to start your workout. If you're going further than a few miles, pick your route so you can pass a few drinking fountains and get additional water during the run.

4. Wear a frozen hat. Okay, I know this sounds a little odd, but it works! Simply soak a cotton baseball cap in water, then put it in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes. Just before heading out on your run, put it on. I even made a YouTube video for this tip - check it out here. You'll get a break from the heat for as much as 10 minutes, which might be a substantial percentage of your run time. At a minimum, it can give you a mental boost. You may look a little goofy at the beginning because you won't be able to get the hat onto your head until it thaws a bit, but you'll be happy, so who cares? (I call this technique "Poor Man's Pre-Cooling.")

5. Rehydrate. Remember how important recovery is? No matter how much you prepare to run in the heat, you'll be more dehydrated than after a run in cooler temperatures, so plan to drink more. No need to gulp down a gallon of water, but just add a glass or two more than usual 30 to 60 minutes after your run.

In other news, I'll be starting my Over-40 Strength Class the week of August 10. I'm still finalizing a suitable location and time, which I will announce next week, so watch this space, as well as my Twitter and Facebook feeds! You can also e-mail me, as some people already have, to make sure you are on my radar.

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. He can be reached at marty@BeTheRunner.com.