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November 15, 2023 4 min read

Beat the heat this summer and adjust your running pace to be safe!!!

It’s SUMMER and with that comes the dreaded HEAT and elevated temperatures with HUMIDITY. For many runners, it can be a tough time to keep training effectively in the conditions and I am personally a FAIR weather runner who will opt for my treadmill in hot temps or rainy weather.

YUP - I love my treadmill so much that I trained for a full marathon running 20 miles on a rainy long run Sunday enjoying my treadmill miles. Yes, I said enjoying 🙂

I found my love for racing while living on the island of Okinawa, Japan and if anyone knows the island it gets crazy hot/humid and running early in the morning helps. I was a new mom with 2 littles kids while training for my 1st marathon, so I used a treadmill often or pushed a jogging stroller. But for those days that I did get out to train in the heat I learned a few tips to help me get the best out of my run, adjusting my pace to focus on the mileage I planned and not over-stress my body which could lead to increased fatigue and/or injury! 

When it comes to adjusting your mile pace in the heat, it's important to have an open mind and be a little flexible with your training. I know when we are TRAINING we don’t want to deviate from the plan but the character of a GREAT runner is being adaptable to conditions, listening to our bodies and being SMART with our training.  

How much you may need to change your per-mile time can vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and individual factors of your area. However, there are some common considerations to adhere to: 

  1. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body is responding to the heat during your runs. If you feel excessively fatigued, struggle to maintain your usual pace, or experience symptoms of heat-related distress, it's important to slow down and adapt to the conditions for your HEALTH!
  2. Start with a Moderate Reduction: As a starting point, consider adjusting your mile pace to be around 10-20 seconds slower per mile than your usual pace in cooler conditions. A small reduction allows for the additional effort required to cope with the heat and helps prevent overheating and exhaustion. SMARTER training.
  3. Be open to Variability: While running in the heat, be open to the fact that  your mile pace may fluctuate more due to the impact of heat stress on your body. Don't be discouraged by variations in pace from one outdoor run to another. Instead, focus on maintaining a consistent effort level throughout your run that isn’t too tough to maintain and know you are doing AWESOME!
  4. Use Perceived Exertion:As a runner it is important to pay attention to perceived exertion during your run, instead of solely relying on specific time targets. Aim for a moderate intensity where you feel challenged but still comfortable and able to finish your run competently. Rate your effort on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very easy and 10 being maximum effort. Aim to keep your effort level around 5-6, which corresponds to a moderate intensity where you can still carry on a conversation without excessive breathlessness. Adjust your pace as needed to maintain that effort level throughout your run. Always finish STRONG!
  5. Hydration and Cooling Strategies are Key:Proper hydration and cooling techniques can help improve your performance in the heat. Hydrate before, during, and after your runs, and consider using cooling strategies like pouring water over your head or using cooling towels to reduce body temperature during breaks or at water stations. BEAT THE HEAT by considering cooler times of the day to run, even if it means setting that alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning.
  6. Flexibility and Patience: 2 tough things for runners - do you agree as we want to run what is on the plan and we already KNOW how to do it. BUT remember that adapting to running in the heat does take time and patience. It's normal to experience temporary decreases in performance. The heat and humidity each year can be brutal and WILL require adjustments during summer training. Allow your body to acclimate gradually and adjust your expectations accordingly. Focus on maintaining consistency in your training rather than fixating on specific mile pace targets.

To BEAT THE HEAT, remember we ultimately want to prioritize safety, maintain a sustainable effort level, and avoid heat-related illnesses during a tough summer race season. By adjusting your mile pace based on YOUR perceived exertion and being flexible with YOUR expectations, you can continue to make progress towards your running goals while staying HEALTHY and SAFE in hot weather conditions.

I know I don’t want to jeopardize summer training with poor race performance trying to train too hard and I know I want MY risk of injury to be kept a minimum so the next race season is successful. What about you?

Have any tips to share? I would love to hear them and maybe I can learn something new for my summer running routine!

- Coach Caroline Adams

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