Q&A: How to Adjust Your Training in the Heat
How should I adjust my training for the hot summer weather?
As the weather gets warmer, the start of your training plans for fall marathons is getting closer. Whether you are a first-time marathoner or an experienced distance runner, the heat and humidity can pose a great challenge. It is important to adjust your fluid intake, clothing choices, and running routes to reduce your risk for developing heat-related illnesses, and to make your runs rewarding and successful.
Sweat it out! Sweating acts as the main cooling system of the body as it evaporates off the skin’s surface. The hot summer weather will cause your body to start sweating sooner, since your core body temperature starts off higher than it does in cooler months. It is not just the hot temperature that can affect your performance—humidity plays a big role as well. Humidity around 75% reduces evaporation rates and does not allow this natural cooling system to work.
If the humidity level is high, wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing to help absorb the sweat from your skin. Try to plan your long runs in an area that has a breeze, shade, and plenty of water stops along the way. As you plan ahead for a week of running, take a close look at the weather—not just the temperature, but humidity too!
Bring on the salt! Do you notice that your skin or clothing has white streaks after a run? If so, you might be a “salty sweater.” Sweat is not just water—it contains electrolytes, including sodium and chloride. Be sure to supplement your water intake with sports drinks or other foods containing electrolytes and carbohydrates, so that you’re replacing the nutrients your body loses as you sweat more.
You might also want to consider adding more sodium to your diet if you feel that you cannot replace enough with sports drinks alone. Be sure to hydrate well on cross-training, short run, and rest days to lower your chances of feeling sluggish on longer runs.
Embrace the heat! Believe it or not, your body will adapt to running in the heat and humidity. As you rack up the miles, your sweating and cooling systems will become more efficient. Learn what hydration and nutrition methods work for you to keep your body from running on fumes. Don’t let the heat and humidity leave you stuck inside on the treadmill—you got this!
About the Author
Jaclyn Graff, PT, DPT is a physical therapist with HSS Rehabilitation. She received her doctorate from Northeastern University and is currently working with the pediatric population at HSS. She enjoys working with young athletes to help them recover from injuries and to return to sports with safe training techniques. Jaclyn has completed multiple road races, half-marathons, and one full marathon, with future plans to add more medals to her collection!