We all know that there are many challenges to running in the heat. It becomes especially difficult when we try to push ourselves to run faster or longer on those hot summer days. While many runners may avoid speedwork in the heat, others want to either train or at least maintain their fitness. It’s definitely possible to run a speed workout in the heat safety and successfully. Here are some ideas to help you to get in these kinds of workouts this summer.
How to Run a Speed Workout in the Heat
Run by effort, rather than pace
Instead of aiming for a specific pace, just try to pay attention to your effort during a workout. It’s important to keep in mind the goal of the workout so you know how your effort should feel. If you are training for a race your effort might be different if you are doing 400s to prepare for a half-marathon than if you are preparing for a 1-mile race. Keep that in mind, as well as how many repeats you are doing. You want to be able to complete the workout without slowing down drastically from the first set to the last. However, you also want to be working hard enough that you will be making gains in your fitness from the workout.
Do you know there are even some benefits to running in the heat?!
Run by time rather than distance
Another option is to consider doing workouts that are based on time rather than distance. Fartleks are great for these kinds of workouts. You could do repeats of 1 minute “hard” followed by 1 minute “easy”. The number of reps you do would depend on your goals and your current fitness. Workouts like this are great for getting your legs moving faster when you may not be specifically training for a race or as you are adjusting to faster running after a recovery period.
Stay Hydrated in the Heat
When you are running hard in the heat, it’s important to ensure you are properly hydrated. You may notice that you feel the effects of dehydration faster on hot days during a hard workout, so make sure you drink plenty of water before your run and try to bring some with you for your workout.
Focus on shorter intervals rather than longer ones when it’s hot out
There are countless types of speed workouts, and depending on your goals these can easily be adjusted during summer training. Think about running workouts that include shorter intervals. By time, this may mean as short as 30 seconds of work, up to 2-3 minutes. The amount of recovery you need will vary depending on your goals and effort of the workout. Longer workouts like tempo runs may feel more challenging in the heat because you will likely experience fatigue and notice the effects of the heat during that long sustained effort.
Adjust your recovery times in the heat
As I said above, the amount of recovery between intervals will depends on a few different factors. However, I think it’s better to take more time to recover between intervals if it means you can run your workout safely and still put in a good effort during the workout portion of your run. If you typically run easy during recovery intervals, don’t be afraid to slow down and walk if that will help you to recover for your next interval.
Do your speed work at the coolest times of the day
Try to get out for your run either early in the morning or later in the evening. Even a few degree difference should help you to feel stronger in your workout. It will also be a little easier to run without the sun being as strong as it is in the middle of the day. If needed (and available), you could always move your workout to the treadmill.
Adjust your expectations when running in the heat
Remember that your workout times will likely slow down a bit during the summer months. Doing a speed workout in the heat is challenging, but can still be beneficial. Try to focus on the fact that you are maintaining your fitness and that the same workout will feel easier in a few months when the weather cools off.
All of that being said, summer is also a good time to back off of speed work and just focus on easy running. You could also just add in a few strides or surges to some of your easy runs if you don’t want to do a formal workout. Especially right now, with the unknowns about fall races, it’s a good time to take the pressure off during summer running.
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Do you do speed workouts in the summer?
What adjustments do you make when running in the heat?
Do you have a favorite speed workout you like to do in the summer?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy and Organic Runner Mom to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.