Active.com to the rescue!

     A day after my last post I read an article on Active.com:  3 Ways to Run Through the Heat.  They’re so in sync with me (and the rest of the planet that is experiencing summer weather, but whatever, I’d like to think I’m that special). 

Anyhow, incase you missed it I had to share it with you: 

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(via:  http://www.active.com/running/Articles/3-Ways-to-Run-Through-the-Heat.htm)

Hot vs. Hard

Increased heat means a distorted sense of perceived exertion (your easy pace feels really hard) and an increased heart rate (your body is working double time to keep cool and keep moving). But while your overall performance deteriorates when temps are above an “optimal” range, your muscles aren’t working any harder just because it’s hot. In fact, the opposite is true: the slower you run, the less stress you are placing on your running-specific muscles.

Less stress means less work, and ultimately less adaptation. To put it another way, it’s like being able to bench press 100 lbs, but on really hot days you only put 85 lbs on the bar because it feels harder. The Marathon Nation focus is on quality, not quantity, and so we need to solve for this heat if the training is to work. So how do you continue to keep the pressure on your body to see progress, yet avoid overtraining?

Suggestions

Here are three ideas you can use to adjust your workouts to compensate for the heat. Whatever you do, don’t train yourself so hard you earn a free hospital journey — it’s just not worth it!

1. Run in the early morning. The temps are not as hot and the air quality is pretty good. This is your best bet if your schedule allows for it.

2. Run slightly further because you’ll be going at a slower pace for a given effort / heart rate. If you wanted to run 7 miles at 9:00 pace, but you can only muster 9:30s or 9:45s, then extend your run to 8 or 8.5 miles. Just make sure you have means to stay hydrated and stay protected in the sun!

3. Adjust the intervals of your harder runs in order to continue running at your normal paces. You can do this by:

  • Running shorter work intervals. Do 6 x 2.5 minutes instead of 3 x 5 minutes;
  • Taking longer recoveries between work intervals so as to be ready for the next work piece; or
  • Splitting tempo runs into intervals. Make that 6 mile tempo run into 3 x 2 miles or 2 x 3 miles with breaks in the middle to hydrate properly and get cool. 

Conclusion

Regardless of which option you chose for your particular workout (or entire training cycle), adapting how you train based on the conditions in which you have to train is critical. You can only ignore the realities of heat and its affect on your body and ability to run for so long; learn to bend like a reed or face the consequences. 

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     What an interesting read!  This is the cool thing about running, learning how it all works.  After reading this I went for a 5 mile run on a humid day and didn’t let my mind slow me down.  Instead I kept my regular pace and ended up feeling great, except for the red-winged bird that dive-bombed at my head.  But that’s another story.

     I’ve taken the suggestions from you here and on Twitter.  In preparation for my long run tomorrow I’m waking two hours earlier, and I’ve tried to get extra water in today.  Tried is the keyword, my appetite has been off (humidity to blame?), so it’s hard to down that water.  I’m looking forward to it though, I heard that the weather will actually be quite nice with less humidity. 

     With that, I need to hit the sack!  Have a super weekend!

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3 thoughts on “Active.com to the rescue!

  1. You found a very good article and I did read it when you first linked to it on twitter the other day. Much better info than my rookie mind could offer. It caused me to run on the treadmill that day at a very good pace rather than suffer through my afternoon hot run at a dismal pace all because of the heat.

    I like the several alternatives the article gives also. I do think if we are going to be endurance runners (half-marathon and longer), then we probably don’t need to shorten our long run distance when overly hot just to keep a decent pace. Not too sure I want to lengthen it as the article suggest!

    Great advice on adjusting the hard runs to make them shorter to hold our normal (non hot/humid pace). Those runs are so important for pace and would be less value if we slowed them down.

    Thanks for posting it on your blog! Great stuff to read again and again.

  2. Thanks for promoting my article and putting the concepts to the test! Running in the heat is one of the most challenging things we do as long-distance runners b/c it can have different effects on us every time. Best of luck with all of your training!

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