The past few weeks have been HOT! While I was in Italy this past week, the temperatures were hitting 35deg most days, and in the week before even London was throwing out some scorchers! As an Australian, I do love summer warmth, but it can get a bit much at times – especially when you are trying to train. There are some things you can do though to ensure that you’re still getting the most out of your training even as the temperatures rise.
Yes, it’s painful getting up early, but temperatures are usually at their lowest in the morning so it’s the best time to fit in a run. I suffered a bit from this in Italy, as we stayed up late having dinner and chatting, and then I had to get up before 7am the next morning. However, it was much more comfortable to run in 25deg at 7am than 29deg at 9am, and any later than that was impossible. If you’re planning to run early, make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time the night before (aka, not like I did!) to get 7-8hrs sleep a night.
If you struggle with getting up early, one method to help you on your way is to lay out your kit the night before, so that everything is organised and ready for you to set off. That way you also don’t have to waste time in the morning finding everything you need. Another is to put your alarm far away from your bed, forcing you to get up to switch it off. Then when you see your gear laid out all ready to go… it’s not much further to get out the door!
Drink more water
This should be fairly obvious, but it’s also so easy to forget! As temperatures rise, your body sweats to keep it cool. That sweat is fluid lost, which you need to replace by drinking water. In the summer heat, you’ll be sweating more than normal and therefore need to drink more than normal. I will often try and find a route where I know there are water fountains along the way, should I need them. For longer summer runs of over 45min, or if running through areas I haven’t been to before (like Rome!), I’ll take water with me to make sure I keep drinking.
For carrying water: hydration packs which you wear as a backpack are great, because they leave your hands free and give you extra storage space to carry your phone, wallet, snacks etc. too. However, if you think that is a bit too much, I recommend purchasing a hand-held water bottle with grip hole (eg. the Karrimor Run Water Bottle), as you’ll find they are much easier to carry while you run.
Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses
The sun is harsh, and will burn you! Even if you’re not pasty-skinned like me, it’s still very important to protect yourself against sun damage. Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen (or 50+!) liberally, and ideally choose one which is designed for sport and therefore won’t dissolve in sweat. Add to this a hat which provides cover but still lets your head breathe (such as a trucker cap), and a pair of sunglasses designed for running. In the hot weather, I wear my Adidas Sport Eyewear SPRUNG sunglasses and Advent Running hat, as I did during a long run through the Italian mountain region of Abruzzo. It’s not necessarily the most aesthetic combination, but it keeps the sun off and that’s the most important thing.
Change your expectations
Heat saps your energy more than you would expect. For instance earlier this year, the temperatures at Paris Marathon reached 25deg and my race suffered. In hot weather, a pace you’d normally expect to feel easy may suddenly feel more difficult to maintain. Intervals or speedwork is even worse to push through, particularly if you’re not hitting the splits you’re used to.
This is normal, and the best way to overcome the mental game is to forget about paces and run to your effort level. For instance, on one of my days in Rome I had a 90min run scheduled with 30min at marathon pace. With temperatures at 27deg I didn’t expect to be able to comfortably hit my marathon pace, and so instead just tried to run that section at an effort level which I could sustain for 42.2km. It doesn’t matter if the paces are slower than normal, by running to effort you are still putting in the work which your training requires.
I’m now back in London and the weather is back to it’s usual dreary self. However, I’m still hoping for some glorious, hot, sunshine-filled days before the summer is out. When they arrive, hopefully these tips will help you keep up with your training!
In the meantime, I’ll still be dreaming of wonderful Italy…