5 tips on how to cope with the heat when running

Friday, July 13, 2018

Can you believe the heatwave we have been having in England?  It has been a real treat to have so much sunshine, but I will say it is impacting my marathon training plan and the quality of sleep I am getting.  I thought I would give you a training update and a few of my tips on how to cope with the heat.

Training update
I am on week eight of my marathon training plan in preparation for Marathon du Medoc and more importantly NYC marathon.  The runs up until now have been endurance building.  Saturday I was meant to do a 90 minute progressive run where every 30 minutes I increase my pace.  In an ideal world, I would have left the house just before 8am, got 60 minutes of solid running in before parkrun and finished with a big effort and new course PB. However, I slept much later than my alarm because the hot weather is making it very hard to sleep. We have an oscillating fan but Friday night it was just blowing hot air around the room.  I don't sleep soundly on a good day so the combination of worse sleep and increased mileage is making me feel exhausted when I get up.  I read a quote the other day that said the snooze button is the ultimate form of procrastination.  It is so true.  I am going to see if I can turn off the option to have snooze on my phone alarm as a way to get me out of bed once and for all.

But I digress.  On Saturday, I did 20 minute slow pace (10 min/mile) before parkrun with my Opsrey running vest. I didn't wear it during parkrun and took a different approach in terms of effort.  I started off in the front and run just under threshold for the entire route.  My average pace was 8:30/mile which is very speedy for me.  I did have to take my top off towards the end of the 2nd lap because the sun was intense even though it was only 9:15am.  I was the 4th female finisher and 2nd in my age group.  This demonstrated to me that my hard work is paying off and I am indeed becoming speedier, as well as more confident in my abilities. 

I need to work on my tummy tan
Last week I also managed a 200 meter and 400 meter PB at track.  I joined group 3 and hung on for dear life.  This is another testament to running and strengthening work I have been doing.  Here is a brief summary.

Sports massages
Taking advice from Charlie at the Runner Beans, I have been scheduling regular sports massages at Function 360*.  In the past, I only had sports massages when my periformis had acted up.  Hopefully, this  preventative work will help keep my leg muscles in tip top form.  Ben has also been working on my crunchy back to loosing up the musculature keeping me upright.  He worked on it on Wednesday and taped it up as a reminder for me to stand up straight. Camping outside this weekend will hopefully not make my back any worse.

Ben is also giving me new bum strengthening routines every six to eight weeks.  Now that I have a training plan to follow, there isn't as much time to commit to this.  After working on my back, he said I am to focus on core work only until I see him again. Up until now, I have gone to the gym Monday nights after spinning for leg curls and hip ad/abductors.  At home, I use my fitness bands for clams, squats and hip extentions.  These are tried and true and seem to be paying up with my newfound speed.
Hip extensions in my messy dining room

Stretching is something I do after every exercise session, be it track, spinning, or run commute.  I start with downward dog, move into pigeon pose, then child's pose.  Then I foam roll my calves.  Hamstring stretch next, then butterfly.  I will also roll my feet over a spikey ball to loosen my fascia.  All of these stretches should help reduce the risk of a repeat Achilles issue and/or periformis pain.

The thing I haven't been doing, and 100% should be, are eccentric heel raises.  These are so important to stretch and strengthen my Achilles.  This weekend at Love Trails Festival, I will probably be kicking myself for not doing them these past eight weeks. I find the uneven terrain while trail running really set off the discomfort.

And now the bit you have been waiting for......

How to cope with the heat

1.  Get up early or go to bed late.  Yes, I know this isn't ideal but if your work is flexible it is a good way to get the miles in without too much disruption.  Don't forget to embrace napping when following this tip or break up your runs into smaller distances for a morning and an evening run.

2.  Cross train.  I ended up doing abdominal work when I couldn't finish my progressive run last weekend.  You could also try swimming or using cardio equipment at the air-conditioned gym (elliptical, indoor bike, treadmill) to continue to build endurance.  Pay As You Gym offers reasonable drop-in rates or monthly memberships if you just need to get by until the autumn weather kicks in.

3.  Slow it down.  Marathon training is really about time on your feet.  Slow down your training runs and don't worry too much about your pace.  If you are sticking to your training plan the best you can, you shouldn't get too far behind.  Don't forget that race day might be really hot too, in which case you will also have to let go of your dreams for a PB.  Try to stay on the shady side of the road for a noticeable temperature difference.

4.  Stay hydrated.  When you are not out on a training run, don't forget to keep drinking water.  You can also start adding a wee bit more salt to your foods to keep your electrolytes in balance.  Or continue to drink nuun or Lucazade to replace the lost salts.  Remember your urine should be nearly clear when you are properly hydrated.

5.  Dress for the weather.  Choose technical fabrics that are breathable and moisture-wicking.  Cotton is not always the best to wear in the heat.  I found myself removing my top to reveal my sports bra on a few runs this month. It isn't something I normally do but I was really struggling in the heat.  Wearing a light baseball hat or visor will also keep some of the sun off of your face.

What I am doing differently from your marathon training? Leave a comment below and let me know.

*If you would like to work with the team at Function 360, I highly recommend them.  Their staff's skill set is diverse so you just need to go to one clinic to receive many services (corrective exercise, massage, dry needling, physiotherapy, etc).  Use code #F360MM15 for a 15% discount and let me know how you get on.

Night of two PBs

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