As a born and raised Alberta girl lets just say moving to Texas at the start of summer was a bit of a shock to the system. At around 2pm everyday my husband and I wondered why we desperately felt the need to lay down for a nap because we felt so drained. I was bonking hard on majority of my typically easy training runs and don't ask how I felt in the last few reps of my workouts, I was experiencing digestion issues I hadn't experienced since being diagnosed with Celiac. Sure I was going through Nuun tablets like pez candy but something was telling me that just wasn't cutting it.
Enter the HELP! After finding and working with genius sports dietician @featherstonenutrition and listening to a few good @runningrogue & @fuelforthesoul podcasts on training in the heat I was starting to feel much more educated about the physiological effects of training in the heat and could apply some good old trail and error tests to my running. Unfortunately like a true Canadian I already had my summer races planned..the only problem was they were in Texas haha - so I attempted my first race; a 10k on September 18th in 26 degree C (79F) heat and 96% humidity. Then ran my Peak race; a Half on October 16th in 20 degree C (68F) and 93% humidity.
This takes me into my top 5 lessons that apply to training and racing in the heat.
1) The heat WILL win every time. I repeat the heat WILL win! Those first few weeks where the temps rise are the hardest, your body needs time to adapt. A good tip is for every 5 degrees above 55F add 10 seconds to your pace per mile. Example your easy run pace is usually 8:45 per mile BUT its 80F and with the humidity feels like 85F this means you should add about 60 seconds per mile therefore your new easy run pace is 9:45 per mile. This might sound excessive but once you adapt and get a better understanding for how your body tolerates the heat you can adjust and go by feel based on effort.
2) Not all electrolytes are the same! This is an extreme personal preference topic and should be based on trial and error. This is something I have been playing with all summer still and am shocked at how much sodium I need to keep up with my training, dog walking and existing in Houston. My biggest regret is not buying shares in salt or electrolytes.
My suggestion is checking out FeatherstoneNutrition's page to educate yourself https://www.featherstonenutrition.com/hydration/#calc
She has amazing content and a great sweat loss calculator I have used to determine the volume of fluids lost during a 60 minute run. Turns out I am a heavy, salty sweater and have found I feel best taking in a little more sodium before, during and after all runs. When it comes to those long runs in the heat I always hyper hydrate the night before and will carry my electrolytes with me on the run, I like to carry a 20oz handheld I can refill every 45mins or so adding the electrolytes I need to feel good at the end of the run. Here are the brands I am liking;
-Skratch Hyperhydrate for the night before long runs
- Re-Lyte for a sugar free electrolyte drink before, after or adding to my Skratch
- Huma + gels for extra sodium on long runs
3) Obvious but not so obvious - wear a light color hat or even better a visor! The difference between winter and summer running is you can take away or add layers in the winter but you might end up in jail for taking away layers in the summer. So dress light - fancy tech fabrics pay off the more sweat wicking and cooling the better. And who cares how you think you look...rock that sports bra and shorts!
4) Seek shade! Plan your route as best as you can though shaded areas, even if you have to repeat the same boring loop.
5) If you can hit the treadmill on those easy recovery days and down weeks. Your body will thank you.
6) Bonus Tip! Most important of them all STAY POSITIVE! There will be hard, defeating days where you want to throw in the towel. All the negative self talk will be there because you feel like you are running slow AF and losing fitness by the second but be assured as my cousin coach @mommytosubthree says the body knows effort not pace. A good reminder to focus on you, do the best you can and when in doubt reward yourself with a Starbucks Refresher at the end of your long run...life saving!
I'll end this here - please share with all your running, biking, golfing, outdoor enthusiast friends!
Peace & Love 'Y'all'