The heat wave has broken across most of the country, but with the dog days of August still upon us, running in the heat is still real possibility across most of the country. So how do runners stay motivated during the hot summer months? For answers to this question, we turned to Get Your Rear in Gear resident running coach, Bryan Brander. Here are the Bull City’s Coach’s suggestions for beating the heat and staying motivated through the tail end of the hot summer days.
With 19 years of running experience under my belt and through working with hundreds of athletes, I have determined two solutions for “beating” the heat: (1) move to a cold weather location, or (2) purchase a treadmill. If those two options are not fiscally or logistically sound then please read on!
- Be Strategic. The hottest time of the day falls in the late afternoon. So, avoid it at all costs. This may sound simplistic, but I am amazed at how many runners I see pounding the blacktop in the peak of the heat. Adjust your lifestyle during the summer months when possible and take advantage of the longer days. Get to bed earlier and start your day with a morning run. The temperatures are typically 15-20 degrees cooler in the early morning. Also, alter your routes by finding a shaded course or trail that is protected from the sun. Certainly there are night owls reading this article that are balking at the idea of waking up early to get in their workout. I understand completely because I used to share the same lifestyle. However, I urge you to give it a shot for three weeks. This will be enough time to adjust to the routine and reap the benefits. If the early morning can’t fit into your lifestyle or the three week experiment fails, then try a late evening option.
Invest. Are you surrounded by cotton? If so, replace those cotton t-shirts and shorts when with lightweight, wicking materials. They will keep you cooler during the summer months and help distribute the sweat. Speaking of purchases, one of the best $20 investments you can make is a lightweight, breathable running hat. Hats not only keep sweat from pouring down your face and into your eyes, but they keep the direct sunlight off your face. Keeping your face in the shade will prevent squinting, which expends energy that you could be using to get through the workout and keep your body cool.
- Hydrate. Hydration is a not a new concept. However, it is easy get caught up in the daily happenings and forget to hydrate throughout the day. Have you ever caught yourself guzzling a bottle of water before you walk out the door for your run? Clearly, this is better than nothing, but staying hydrated throughout the day will help you during the workout and prevent your body from depleting additional resources. Once out the door, hydration every 20-30 minutes during your run is best practice. There are many handheld running bottles that can be purchased at your local running store to facilitate this process. At a minimum adjust your routes to hit a water station (e.g. a public water fountain or your home) every 30 minutes.
Some Final Thoughts. Even if you follow the preceding advice to a “T” you’ll find yourself dragging some days. Part of running is experiencing those awful days at times. These runs tend to occur at a higher rate in the summer months, so be prepared for them and look forward to your next run. Finding a running partner to join you at least once or twice a week will keep you motivated to get through your workouts. Do not get caught up with beating the clock either. You should ignore the watch at least once and week and force yourself to get in one recovery run per week at a relaxed, enjoyable pace.
Remember, there are only a few finite solutions for “beating” the heat, but hopefully these tips will increase your success in “managing” the summer months. Best of luck with your training! Run well…
Bryan Brander is a school principal by day and runner/coach by morning, night, and weekend. He began his running career, entering his first race, at the age of twelve and was blessed to have the opportunity to run competitively in high school and college. Since then he has been coaching runners and sharing his knowledge, training, and success, while also competing in a variety of distances from 5Ks to 50 milers, and enjoying his love for the sport along the way. In 2010 he founded Bull City Coaching, a comprehensive running resource to deliver his coaching on a larger scale. Bryan ran his first Get Your Rear in Gear event in Raleigh, N.C. on March 5, 2011. You can follow Bryan on Twitter or email him for more information.
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