It seems like everyone is obsessed with being comfortable. I don’t believe anyone ever improved their racing performance or weight loss or body image by being comfortable. It’s when you’re especially uncomfortable, you start to get a training effect. So, who wants to suffer a little?
Here in the Northeast, it’s hot. This is what we were praying for back in January (and February, March and April), remember? It’s finally arrived so let’s not complain and instead, use it to our advantage.
Training in the heat definitely has it’s advantages, especially if a race you’re training for is expected to reach temperatures above 75, which is highly likely if you’re racing within the next three months. If you want to be prepared, you should train in like conditions.
Now, before anyone gets too crazy and collapses from heat exhaustion, know that I’m not suggesting you push past your limit. Everyone has a different threshold for heat so please know where your line is before you cross it.
Be hydrated! You want to feel the effects of the heat and have it supplement your training but you need to go into it well hydrated. Drink generously (water please!) for two to three days before a hot run.
If you’re looping a route, doing hill repeats or are training at the track, bring a bag of ice with you.
Dress appropriately if you’re heat training outside – light colored cap, mesh or light material tank, light colored and light weight shorts, sunscreen and sunglasses.
There was a recent article by Alex Hutchinson, in Runner’s World about heat training producing a plasma volume increase. Plasma is the liquid component in your blood and if the volume is increased, you can send blood to cool your skin without compromising the supply carrying oxygen to your muscles.
The result? You can run faster and/or more efficiently in all temperatures.
Treadmill: If mother nature isn’t supplying the heat you need, either run on a treadmill in a room where the temperature is 75-85 degrees or put on some extra clothing like long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Keep your pace moderate and, only run a distance you are training for or are used to. This is not the workout to increase pace or distance.
Repeat once every three days.
Track: Here’s where the bag of ice comes in handy. Place the bag with your stuff on the infield of the track. Do an easy warm-up for 10-15 minutes and then begin some speed work. Run for up to one mile at 5K pace and then put some ice in your sports bra or under your hat and repeat.
Each time you do this workout, use less ice. Repeat once a week.
Hills: After a mile warm-up, chose a hill you can run up at a comfortable pace in about 2-4 minutes. Run up and jog or walk back down, 4-8 times. Do a cool down walk or jog back and rehydrate immediately.
Repeat once a week.
THE ‘EASY’ WAY
If you have a race coming up and know the temps are going to soar, you can do what four-time Olympic champion Lasse Viren did and hit the sauna post-workout. Research has shown that four, 30-minute sauna sessions after a workout can have the same plasma effect…just don’t hit the sauna the same day as a hot run!
Obviously this is extreme training for some but, runners of all levels can benefit from being a little uncomfortable in all types of weather conditions. As long as you’re safe, don’t fear the heat and go outside and run!
Is it hot where you are?
What do you avoid doing in the heat?