october 17, 2015
Running in the summer heat brings its own unique set of circumstances. First of all, you burn more energy at a given pace. At the same time, your body diverts more blood flow to the skin to push out the heat. This means that although you need more energy, you have less to work with which creates a double whammy! Failure to adapt adequately makes an already tough situation that much tougher. Here are a few suggestions on how to adapt to enjoy a more productive run.
1) Warm up slower – Since it takes your body 20-40 minutes to become 100% efficient at cooling itself, start out conservatively (there is no minimum pace here so take advantage of coach’s advice to start as slow as you can!). You won’t get behind the ’8-Ball’ in building up more heat than your body can release. If elite Kenyan runners can start at least 4-5 minutes per mile slower than their 5K race pace, you should follow their lead.
2) Run more by effort – Since you will go slower for a given effort, don’t worry about the slower pace. The good news is that any summer running in the heat will lead to greater performance gains in fall races regardless of the weather, hot or cold. Therefore, stick with your normal effort for a given workout, speed, goal pace, long, or recovery run.
3) Run more by time – Since you will go slower, scale back your distance accordingly. For example, if it normally takes you 2 hours to do 12 miles when it’s cool out, run for 2 hours even if that means you end up doing 10-11 miles. What you want to limit is the amount of forced walking in the final part of a run. Be proactive and cut the distance rather than trying to complete the full distance but having to walk at the end. While that is, of course, the safe thing to do, it does nothing good for your training while also being a greater health risk.
4) Take walk and/or stop breaks to cool off during the run – Lowering the intensity allows your body to release excess heat which then allows it to perform better. Embrace water breaks every 1-2 miles in which you stop to cool off for a few minutes and/or incorporate 1 minute walk breaks after every 5-10 minutes or mile. Those with goal pace miles are better off alternating a goal pace mile with a recovery period (which can be up to 1 mile) to keep more of the quality. On speed workouts, shorten the length of the repeat by 50% or more and lengthen the recovery period where you simply walk to cool off to maintain the quality or just switch to fartleks in which you run by 5K-10K effort for 1 minute followed by a 2 minute recovery jog/walk. You can compensate by doing more of these shorter repeats as long as you maintain the quality.
5) Learn to take ‘graceful exits’ on scheduled runs – Never hesitate to play it safe, especially on warm days, by cutting your workout short as well as slowing the pace. Pull out all the stops to ‘survive and advance’ through the summer. You’ll be rewarded with a lower risk of injury, fresher legs, and better running/racing performances when the weather starts to cool.
Consider joining Runner’s Edge for our main Saturday morning long run program or our Tuesday evening speed sessions where all of these tips will be incorporated – it’s easier to do the wise thing when your peers are doing them! We’ll have well supported runs with aid stations every 2 miles on scenic, shaded courses and most pace groups incorporate a 1 minute walk break after each mile while starting and staying slower. The speed sessions are intelligently adapted to still get in a quality workout in the heat. All are welcome to enjoy a complimentary workout anytime for either program and I’ll simply pro rate the fee if you decide to join. Contact Coach Valdez at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Also, I invite you to attend the monthly clinic on July 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the 119th & Quivira Garry Gribble’s Running Sports store. Sports Medicine Dr. Barbara Semakula will address “The Most Common Running Injuries and What You Can Do About Them”. The clinic is free and open to the public. Simply RSVP to me and be entered in a drawing for one of two $25 Garry Gribble’s gift certificates.
- Coach Eladio