You will run slower in the summer.
How’s that for an encouraging start to this article? But it’s true. As soon as the temperatures heat up, it can feel like all your fitness has gone out the window. But it hasn’t!
I used to hate summer running before I “got it.” Fitness is weather-proof. All weather can serve to help you get fitter and mentally stronger. So instead of worrying about the weather or needing perfect conditions to run, I embrace all conditions because I know I’m still getting fit and stronger.
The trick to getting through summer running: focus on effort.
Focusing on effort ensures you’re running the workout’s intention every time and not overdoing by trying to focus on a pace when the heat has a significant effect on your body. When we do that, we’re actually overdoing it and our bodies will need more recovery.
That’s why in the heat, I just focus on effort and I try not to let my watch be my focus. I’ll actually do workouts on the grass and on the rolling dirt trails so that I further remove myself from pace. Grass + heat = you’re just happy to be out there and getting that workout done. Since it’s not an apples to apples comparison with previous workouts, it’s a little easier for me to let pace go and just focus on effort and being present in the workout.
It’s important to have a very level head when training in the summer and to have the mindset that if you went out there and followed the right effort for the workout—that it was a success. It’s too easy to have a workout in the summer where you’re beating yourself up afterwards because the paces look “slow.”
The heat is considered “poor man’s altitude” because, like altitude, it has a similar effect on paces and makes running considerably harder. And just like training at altitude, if you grind away in the summer heat and you’ll be flying fast in the fall.
It’s really important to not let ego be apart of your summer running. Your fitness is all still there. It’s intact. It didn’t evaporate in the summer heat. You have to run with that confidence so that you don’t have total breakdowns when you’re a bit slower with the rising temperatures.
I used to let the slower paces freak me out. I would then operate out of desperation, having meltdowns after workouts. I would try to push the pace to my normal/cool weather paces. Doing so would put me at risk for overtraining and would require additional recovery.
Now that I know that fitness doesn’t equate to paces, I don’t let the slower numbers affect me. I know that I’m getting faster and stronger so long as I put in the correct effort over the summer.
My Top Summer Running Tips
For your workouts in the summer, it’s important to really start off on the slower side for those first miles and intervals. Starting too quickly in the heat can dig you into a hole before you even know it.
My favorite way to train in the summer heat is with fartleks and shorter intervals. Shorter intervals with longer recoveries allow your body to catch up in the heat instead of grinding it out with long marathon tempos. The great part about focusing on speed in the heat is that you’ll really feel the effects of it in fall when the temperatures cool down.
Plus in the summer, the shorter races are perfect for when it’s hotter.
It’s also important to hydrate well for summer running. And no, just water doesn’t count. Hydration means replenishing your body with all the electrolytes it needs. Every time I drink, it’s with water that has minerals or electrolytes. Great options are: coconut water, lemon water with Celtic salt, water with chlorophyll, juices, milk, and electrolyte drinks.
We sweat so much in the summer and lose so much of our minerals and electrolytes through our sweat that it’s important that we replenish every time we are drinking. Making sure to hydrate before and after workouts is key so that our mineral and
electrolyte balance isn’t thrown off.
Instead of dreading summer runs, let’s see it as a time where we are putting our head down, grinding, and then looking for a big, big payday come fall races. Let your mind be a positivity zone for summer running. Practice mental strength and stamina. Focus on the right effort for each workout. Learn to be really in touch and in tune with your body and how it’s feeling. This is how we can make those hot runs turn us into our strongest selves.