With the unusual weather we experienced in March and April here in the Hudson Valley, it probably seemed to many of you that the warmer temperatures of spring and summer might never come. But with the turning of the calendar to May, thermometer readings in the high 80s and low 90s were a stark reminder that the official start of summer is just a few weeks away, and perhaps now is a good time to discuss how to best contend with the coming heat of June, July and August.
Keep these very important things in mind as you train over the warmest months on the calendar:
Most of us may be compelled to do this anyway on account of our work schedule, but don’t forget that it’s usually a better (and safer) experience when you avoid running between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Optimally, if you can get your run in before the sun breaks the horizon in the morning, do it. Or run after you’ve come home from work and have had a chance to wind down from a busy day. The evening temperatures may still be warm and humid, but at least those conditions won’t be compounded by a strongly beating sun.
Adjust your pace
As a rule of thumb, the warmer it is the slower your pace should be. A 9-minute mile pace may seem downright comfortable when it’s 50 degrees outside, but when it’s 80 degrees and humid, your body will be screaming virtual obscenities at you if you don’t step back your per-mile pace by a minute or two. This is less important on a short run than a long one, but should still be abided by to some extent regardless of your distance.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Hydration is an essential element of the runner’s creed, but is all too often forgotten. It’s helpful to drink 8-12 ounces of fluid 30 to 60 minutes before your run. But then remember, of course, to carry plenty with you during the run itself. The prevailing wisdom is to drink 4-6 ounces for every 20 minutes while running, and upwards of 8 ounces if you’re running a somewhat faster pace than usual (for example, on a tempo run). This sounds like a lot, and perhaps it is. It computes to 12-24 ounces per hour, depending on your speed. This may not be too much to carry during a short run, but on especially long runs, be sure to either stash extra fluids along your route in advance, or plan one that periodically takes you past a fluid source. For many, that might be a water fountain or a favorite convenience store.
This holds true for all seasons, but is especially important during the summer heat. And it goes beyond the basics of simply running in shorts and short sleeves. Your choice of fabric will determine whether you suffer or are relatively comfortable (emphasis on the word ‘relatively’) during a warm-weather run. Breathable, polyester clothing will allow heat from your body to escape, and will also wick sweat away from the skin. Additionally, since technical clothing doesn’t hold much moisture, it will reduce chafing in the sensitive areas of your upper and lower body.
Abiding by these simple but important rules of summer running will help make your experience not only safer, but more fun. And after all, isn’t fun what it’s all about?
Run on, friends!
Todd Jennings is a local race director, a beer snob, a trail running blogger, a hasher, and a local real estate agent in Chester. Contact Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.