It is said that Fall is the most perfect time of year to run. It’s no wonder so many big races are scheduled for the Fall. But to get to the start line of your race, you’re going to be training throughout the summer. So wouldn’t it be best to avoid the ‘summer training mistakes’ and arrive at your race in tip-top condition? You can thank me after your fall race.
Whilst the Fall is the best time to compete in running, the summer is the optimum time of year to get your running mojo back. Longer days, beautiful weather and holiday destination running has to be the perfect way to explore (okay, I’m a runner, I’m biased, but so are you!) But proceed with caution. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to running through the summer. There are simple mistakes and training mishaps that can have you burn and burn out if you’re not careful.
Remember your goal! Whatever it may be through this time of year, whether it’s to make it through summer training and get to the Fall ready to compete. Take up running as part of a fitness plan. Or even to fall back in love with running, yearning for more. Both can happen if you avoid these mistakes:
- Mistake 1: Rejecting hydration and nutritional needs
- Mistake 2: Not giving yourself time to acclimatise
Getting the balance of exercise and nutrition is one so many struggle with generally, so when you start adding heat into the mix it can get a bit more complex.
Hydration is vitally important to regulate your core temperature. To avoid heat stroke, muscle cramping and intense headaches, it is vital to take on fluid before, during and after your run in the heat. If you’ve planned a long run, wear a hydration pack, or stop en route for water fountains and mix it up with an electrolyte drink. Because drinking only water can impact sodium levels in your blood, leading to dizziness, fatigue and nausea.
In summer everyone wants to look their best in a bathing suit poolside – and often this is achieved through exercising and restrictive eating. Or made to feel guilty for re-fuelling snack choices. Likewise, the heat can suppress hunger. Try to eat little and often throughout the day. Fresh fruit snacks and milkshake-like drinks can help to refuel when the idea of a meal is too much in the mid-day sun.
With any training, there is an adjustment period. You wouldn’t go from running 3 miles a week to 3 miles a day at the skip of a beat, so don’t expect to do it in the summer heat.
To build up your tolerance to the heat, you have several options:
- Lower the mileage initially and work back up over time
- Alternate indoor treadmill days and outdoor running days, then almost wean yourself off the treadmill over time
- Start training at the coolest part of the day and gradually run later in the day until your comfortable
- Slow it down. Walk in the heat and then think about running.
Especially important if you have gone abroad, to a temperature you’re not quite accustomed to. Just get used to one thing at a time. Yes you might hit the three-mile mark but it is often slower than usual – that’s okay! Pushing too much, and expecting adjustment too soon is a recipe for fatigue.
There is a reason hot running kit is different to winter running gear – it is not a marketing gimmick, believe me!
The materials for summer running kit are lightweight and created to wick away the sweat, cool your body temperature and reflect the heat – bright colors in the heat helps – this goes for running hats too. Running in a hat in the summer will help keep your head cool with its sweat-wicking abilities (bonus point – should the weather turn on you mid-run, it keeps the raindrops from your eyes too).
Yes, I’m talking sunscreen and sunglasses.
No matter how short your run is, going outside in the sun without UV protection is asking for damaged eyesight, skin and risk of skin cancer.
Using at least SPF 15 sunscreen will help protect your skin. Apply it 15 minutes before you head out and every two hours after (more often if you’re sweating). Although there are some brands out there which are sweat-resistant – ideal if you’re heading for a long run or race.
SPF 15, 15 minutes before heading out, what an easy way to remember, eh?
As for sunglasses, a hat alone won’t completely protect your eyes from sun damage. Your usual ones will probably work but running sunglasses are designed to not slip off your face or bounce around with each step (and trust me that gets very irritating very quickly).
So it’s humid, think about how’s best to complete today’s run? Just because you have 10 miles to cover today. Keep flexible and open-minded about your training. Split it into 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening when it’s cooler. You’ve covered the distance without suffering for it.
That might mean heading indoors for the treadmill instead of trying to combat the heat outside. It might not be your favourite way to train but there are fun ways to keep entertained whilst covering your mileage indoors.