Staying in (running) shape during a heat wave – My attempts

As the 5th day of 90 degrees and humidity blesses the streets of Boston, many of us sit here and wonder what to do with ourselves as we stare at our charged up Garmins and a clean pair of shoes.

Even the trails offer no real shelter from this heat.  The shade can only do so much.  Here’s some things I’ve come up with to keep myself from going crazy, busy while keep some form of running shape.

Last year I wrote why and how to run in 95 degrees,  But I’m a little older, a little wiser, and while my tips from last year are still good, I have a few more things to add for how and why I’m staying in running shape this summer.  90 degrees, 100 degrees, you don’t scare me!

1. Cross-train – Now I’ll be first to admit, I hate crossing training.  I love running, it’s all I want to do, most of the time.  However, summer presents a great opportunity to brush up (or learn) on swimming and biking! Two things that are highly unpleasant to do in the dead of a blizzard in sub zero temperatures.

Jamis Joplin

Aside from all the usual great benefits of just biking and swimming to begin with.  These are both great cardio workouts!  A 3 hour bike ride is 3 hours of your heart working out.  It might not be as great as running, but it’s the closest thing I found that’s still outside.

And swimming! I still suck at it, but there’s something quite blissful about being in a pool of water, after being outside in the heat.  Even if the said pool is of questionable hygiene at your local Y.

P.S. Please wear a helmet when you bike (for your safety) and a swim cap (for my safety) in public pools because seeing hairballs the size of rodents isn’t pleasant.

2. Run early or late – As much as I hate waking up early, I find that here, the mornings are more pleasant than the evenings when it can take until complete darkness for the temperature to cool off.

3. Join a gym – I’m blessed with treadmills at work but I also have a Y membership that I use for swimming and running on weekends when I just don’t want to be in the sun. I actually freeze my membership in the winter (when it’s packed with all the New Year resolution people) and unfreeze in April.  There’s plenty of gyms out there that only cost $10 – $20 and they may not have towel service or classes, but usually they have a semi working treadmill and an AC and quite frankly that’s good enough for me.

4. Treadmill for shorter distance – Tied to joining a gym and/or buying a treadmill for indoor running.  While, I rather kill myself with a butter knife than do a 20 miler on a treadmill again, they do have some benefits.  They’re perfect for harnessing some speed workouts for a new 5K or 10K PR without ever having to drag your sweat dripped bum to the track.

5. Acclimate into the heat – Run slower, fewer miles at first.  You can’t go from running 3 hour 22 milers in 50 degrees to 3 hour 22 milers in 90 degrees.  You need to start slow and sadly with each summer, you need to do it again.  Start with 5 milers and work your way up.  You get used to it.  I can’t promise it will ever feel pleasant (unless you’re one of those freak of natures who loves 100 degree runs) but it does get easier.

Fall PR Earned in Summer

Summer heat… I’ll run through it, but that’s won’t keep me from complaining about it!

Favorite way or tip for staying in running shape over the hot summer days?

How to run in 95 degree weather or just hot weather… Part 1 of 2

Here’s the funny part about living in Boston;  When you tell people you train outside during the winter in negative degree snowbound weather, they don’t bat an eye but tell them you went running during 95 degree weather and suddenly you’re crazy. Although our heat wave is slowing down in Boston, summer is by no means over. The 2012 Boston Marathon proved that even in April you’re not safe from blasting hot weather. If it’s cold, you layer up but for heat? There’s a limit to how many layers you can take off…

I’ve heard of some useful tips on training during hot days, or more specifically working your hardest to avoid it.

– Run really early or later in the day to avoid the sun
– Check the weather for the week and adjust your runs to the cooler days
– Run on shaddy trails
– Take your run indoors

These are all good ideas and are good tips for starting out but in the words of Scott Jurek Sometimes You Just Do Things.” Sometimes you just need to train in the heat and there’s no avoiding it. Why?

1. As we learned during the 2012 Boston Marathon Nightmare, you can’t always pick your race day weather and races are rain or shine no matter how hot the shine is.
2. If you’re training for a fall race, summer running needs to be done. Or at least for me, if I don’t practice running, I can’t show up on a random day and run a marathon, sadly I’m just not that talented
3. You can’t always pick your day or time you work out when you have other responsibilities. I’m not an evening runner. If I run at night, I can’t sleep for hours so sunset runs are out. Also as a tiny gal, it’s not the most safest running decision I can make.
4. Studies show that heat training improves performance. One study done be in 2010 at the University of Oregon concluded that turning up the heat might be one of the best things for athletes competing in cool weather since Gu.

The researchers took 12 highly trained cyclists — 10 males and two females — before and after a 10-day heat acclimation program. Participants underwent physiological and performance tests under both hot and cool conditions. A separate control group of eight highly trained cyclists underwent testing and followed the same exercise regime in a cool environment.

The study found performance increases of approximately 7 percent after 10 heat acclimation exposures. “In terms of competitive cycling, 7 percent is a really big increase and could mean that cyclists could use this approach to improve their performance in cooler weather conditions,” said Lorenzo. However, the heat exposures must be in addition to the athletes’ normal training regimen.

Heat acclimation improves the body’s ability to control body temperature, improves sweating and increases blood flow through the skin, and expands blood volume allowing the heart to pump to more blood to muscles, organs and the skin as needed. You can read the full study here with all the technical jargon.

This will conclude part one of my two-part running in heat posts. I talked about why you shouldn’t skip your run just because it’s hot, next I’ll talk about some tips and some hot weather running essentials that I’ve picked up from my experience thus far!

Today I tried to implement the heat acclimation theory and was going to skip the treadmill to do some “heat training.” However it started to rain and I had nothing to protect my phone with. instead I went inside. Luckily for heat training purposes the Malden Y is 200 degrees. So I ran my 4 out of 5 miles there instead. Saturday and Sunday are 10 and a 13 miles for me this weekend as part of ultra training. Hopefully the thunderstorms will hide away in the morning!

I hope everyone has a runful weekend!