Embracing Heat and Humidity Running

    TiaOur guest blogger is Tia Pettygrue, a USATF & RRCA certified running coach. She works with our friends at Florida Road Races. These races along Florida’s west coast were created to promote a healthy lifestyle and showcase their coastal communities.

    Let’s face it, much of the US has been sweltering recently. Most people would probably rather jump in a pool than run in this kind of weather. But here are some tips to make the most of running in the heat.

    • Know that it will not last. If you’re training during the heat of summer, you’re probably training for a fall race. So chances are, your race may be in the fall when temps will be milder.
    • Don’t expect to run your goal pace. Running in temperatures over 80 degrees (especially in humid areas) can have a 12-20% impact on your pace. So don’t beat yourself up if you struggle to run your goal pace. If you normally run a 10:00 pace and the weather is 85 degrees, your adjusted pace would be around 10:23. So if you’re doing a race and you don’t hit that PR, don’t be too hard on yourself.
    • Dress accordingly. Wear a hat or visor and make sure you put a Sports Sunscreen on before you head out. Wear light colored clothing. I’m jealous of the guys like my husband who can go shirtless when they run.
    • Remember your hydration. Even for a quick 3-mile run, I will wear my hydration belt. I’ll fill my bottles full of ice and then pour water in them. This way, the water stays cooler longer. And, if you’re running at least 45 minutes, add some electrolytes to the water. You need more than ever to hydrate every 15-20 minutes. If you’re running longer than an hour, make sure you have a place on your route to refill if needed. Where I run there is a park every 1 ½ miles with water fountains and restrooms. So look for routes that offer these type of options. Most parks with walking or running trails will have water along the way.
    • Don’t feel guilty about taking walk breaks. It’s hot out there and that sun can zap your energy, so if you need to take a break during your run, take it to refresh and re-energize. Better to take a break than to overheat. Sometimes I’ll incorporate a walk break to take pictures of the beautiful scenery or a sunrise.
    • Become an early bird or a night owl. Find a friend or a group and plan a pre-dawn run or or a run after the sun goes down. Where I live in Florida, it’s very humid even at 5am, but at least the sun beating down. Use caution if running alone – it’s always better if you can have a buddy with you.
    • Heat running will make you stronger. I used to take the summers off from running because of the heat. Then one year, I did a summer marathon up north so I had no choice but to train in the heat. I found I felt more accomplished after each run because it was so hard. When I did the race, it was 45 degrees, and I easily hit my goal pace. So consider heat running a challenge that you can conquer. Stay safe out there!
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