Coach Mike Mead

August 2011

Beat the heat, but not your body

Well, another Peachtree Road Race is in the books and the summer heat and humidity is high as we enter the Dog Days of August. This time of the calendar year can be a challenge for high school and college runners getting ready for the cross country season or those gearing up for a fall marathon. What is a runner to do?

The heat and humidity can certainly wear a runner down, but if you are trying to make gains in the sport you have to persevere and train smart. If you plan to race faster, you must train faster. But when heat and humidity are affecting training a different plan of attack must be taken.

If you have read any of my monthly writings over the years, you have a good idea that I prefer runners take advantage of the cooler, though more humid, mornings as opposed to the heat of the day. You should also know by now all about the precautions to take when training in summer conditions.

So to make some gains in training during the Dog Days, here are some tips to consider:

Take it slower – If it is particularly hot and/or humid, do your runs at a slower pace. Anywhere between 30 seconds and perhaps as much as a minute slower than your 10K pace may be in order to keep you from getting too worn down.

Run shorter – You might consider cutting back on how far or long you run. If you normally run for 45 minutes, maybe running for 30-35 minutes will do your body better. If you feel the need to keep up your distance on any given day, consider breaking the effort into two separate runs; may be 25 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at dusk.

Run faster – If you consider the previous tip of running shorter, do so but run with more intensity. In the previous example of a 45 minute run, if you cut back to one 30 minute run, increase the pace by 15-30 seconds per mile pace. You might feel stronger and faster and when the weather cools and you get back to your normal distance training, you hopefully should be able to run it at a faster pace, too.

Mix it up – If the heat is a hindrance, maybe this is the best time of the year to do those “other running things” you’ve avoided doing such as cross training, form drills, bare foot running and the like. This might be the perfect time to work different muscles and areas of the body you do not do during your normal linear training routine. Mixing it up a little will give your body a break and perhaps help it prepare (injury prevention!) for more serious training when the weather cools.

The major key is don’t totally shut down your running for the summer. You must keep the proverbial wheels turning. If you had a pretty good spring racing season, or ran well at Peachtree, do not go on hiatus and end up having to start over from scratch!

The key is being patient if you have issues with the heat. Train through the best you can and when the temps cool, get back after it!