Coach Mike Mead

Dealing With The Summer Heat - July 2006

Summer officially began in blazing fashion, here in Georgia, last month with the temperatures in the upper 90’s. Welcome to what could be one of the hotter summers to hit the South in a few years. The Peachtree Road Race usually marks the unofficial siesta time many runners in the South take until cooler weather returns.

But if you’re like me, the summer time is prime time to get out and seriously train and compete. If you use some common sense and take a few pre-cautions you can “Get-R-Done” without cooking your proverbial goose.

I highly recommend getting in the majority of your running during the early part of the day – that is before 7 a.m. It’s not only the coolest part of the day, but also the quietest. With school out for the summer months, the traffic is a little less and the air quality is usually pretty good, too. The only down side is the humidity can be pretty high making for a fairly soggy run.

The majority of my running the past 20 years has been done in the morning. Maybe I’m a morning person, but I’d rather get in my run first-thing knowing that if the day becomes unpredictable, I got in my time first and feel I’ve got something accomplished on those days nothing seems to be getting done.

By running in the early morning, your body is use to some stress at this time that should make your racing easier since many summer events begin as early as 7 a.m., though most heart attacks occur during the morning hours. However, many running experts say that the best time to get in your optimum training is in the late afternoon or early evening time. It makes sense. The body has had most of the day to “wake up” to handle the work more efficiently. I agree with the experts and have noticed first-hand better times with similar effort in the afternoons/evenings than in the morning.

Yes it’s so hot in the summer, but it can be done! An approach I recommend is do the majority of your weekly mileage in the mornings. Then about two or three times a week, get out in the late afternoon or early evening to do your form and/or speed work. This should give you some “balance” in your training, regarding temperature.

The most important aspect to summer training is hydration. Be sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your training runs. If you are watching your weight, keep in mind that consuming too many sports drinks, juices, etc. will add extra calories so try to drink plenty of water.

It’s important to replace your lost vitals your body sweated out. Recently, I have read two different sources that stated the best replacement fluid is not sports drinks but good old chocolate milk! Good, unless you are lactose-intolerant. The main thing chocolate milk provides that sports drinks do not is protein. A four carb-to-1 protein ratio is considered optimum, within 45 minutes after completing a workout, when it comes to recovery and chocolate milk comes close.

The time immediately after a hot, sweaty run will determine how quickly you’ll be ready for the next run. I recommend getting into a swimming pool after a run for about 15 minutes. If a pool is unavailable, take a long cool shower to help bring your core body temperature slowly back down.

Another safe bet regarding training during the summer months is give yourself more rest by cutting back on distance or slowing your pace will get you through the “Dog Days.” If you’re one who gets hung up with getting in mileage, consider two, five-mile runs instead of a 10-mile run. You have choices when it comes to running, just choose wisely.

You have to be careful on extremely hot, and/or humid days and Code Red Ozone days. I’ve written before how I came close to heat stroke a couple of times in my younger days and now I pay for it since my body does not tolerate the heat like it use to when it comes to long runs.

When in doubt, chill out and have a safe summer!