Summertime half marathon training benefits and hacks
While training for a half marathon every runner will step outside for a summer workout and immediately dread the long, hot run that awaits them. While it’s certainly true that running in the heat is harder, it also has some serious benefits for distance runners. When done right, summertime workouts boost cardiovascular fitness and make acclimating to temperature changes much easier. In this post, we’ll highlight the key benefits of training in the heat and a few tips for making it through those hot runs. Check out the Half Marathon Girl beginners guide if you’re completely new to running.
Benefits of training in the heat for half marathon runners
Simply speaking, running when it’s hot outside forces your body to work harder than usual. That also means you’ll see more benefits from training in the heat, including:
- You’ll produce more blood plasma: Researchers have found that training in the heat increases a runner’s blood plasma volume, which leads to better cardiovascular fitness, according to Outside Magazine.
- Hemoglobin production also increases: Endurance athletes who train in hot environments produce more hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. More hemoglobin means better oxygen intake and enhanced endurance during long workouts, according to health.com.
- Thermoregulation gets easier: With more plasma and better oxygen distribution, your body will have an easier time staying cool and adapting to temperature changes. After a few weeks of heat training you may begin sweating earlier into your workouts and your heart rate won’t be as high despite the temperature.
- You’ll build better running habits: If you didn’t pay much attention to your water and electrolyte intake before attempting a summertime half marathon training regimen, running in the heat will quickly teach you how important hydration is. Heat training also teaches runners how to listen to their bodies and take recovery more seriously.
Here are 5 tips to make running in the heat easier
Prioritize hydration before, during, and after summer workouts
You’re going to be sweating a lot more than usual during heat training. Make sure you’re meeting your daily recommended water intake at least 24-48 hours before training in the heat. Have a sports drink with electrolytes about an hour before your workout. Staying hydrated during your training session will be key. Plan on drinking 5-8 ounces of water about every 20 minutes of your run. You can also carry electrolyte tabs like Nuun Sport Electrolyte Drink Tablets or a sports drink rather than water. If you start getting cramps, it could be a sign of dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. You’ll probably need a longer recovery period after hot training sessions than usual, so don’t plan back-to-back hard workouts when you’re training in the heat. If you plan on competing in a race in the heat, avoid tough workouts for two days before race day.
Opt for running clothes with breathable, sweat-wicking fabric
Sweat-wicking fabric like polyester or cotton blends will be your best friend for summertime half marathon training sessions. Look for items that are light in color with mesh panels for better ventilation, including sports bras. The Women’s Wild Trails Sports Bra from Patagonia offers the right amount of high-impact support and breathability for training in hot weather.
Wear plenty of sunscreen
Sunscreen with at least 30 SPF is a must, especially for distance runners who spend hours training outside. Look for sweat-resistant sunscreens that won’t come off during tough workouts. Skinnies Sungel has been a favorite among runners for its thick, gel-based formula. Don’t forget to protect the top of your head with a headband or hat.
Slow down your half marathon training plan for about two weeks
Don’t get discouraged if you’re not meeting your goals for each workout. It takes most runners about two weeks of training in the heat to get into the groove of summertime running. It’s typical for distance runners to see a 1.5-3% increase in average finishing time for every 10-degree air temperature increase, according to Runners World Magazine. Pay attention to how your body is feeling and tweak your goals accordingly. For example, if you want to bring your average mile time down to 9 minutes, give yourself a 30-second window to shoot for. Give yourself a wider window on hotter days.
Use sunglasses to prevent headaches from long runs
Remembering a pair of sunglasses can save you from a serious headache after your run, but you need to be sure they’ll stay in place while you’re moving around. The Knockaround from Premiums Sport have a serious cult following thanks to their fitness-friendly design and reasonable price.