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Surviving Our Summer (Think SOS – Shorten or Slow Down!)

I love summer running. The increased daylight, clear roads and no worry of ice and snow! I do not have to layer clothes and there is no concern of frostbite. But there is a cost – heat and humidity. We can only remove so much clothing! Fluid loss, dehydration, and heat-related illnesses are a real concern.

Set yourself up for success BEFORE you run.

  • HYDRATE constantly. This does not mean chug a glass of water right before you run. It means staying hydrated throughout the day. Watch alcohol and caffeine and consider drinking a sports drink with electrolytes.
  • Have access to water during your run. This means to either carry water or make sure you have access to water on your route. When it is sunny and above 75 degrees, I carry water, even for short runs.
  • Run early or later in the day. Adapt and adjust your schedule.
  • I know some people are not a fan but hit the treadmill. Most people use them in the winter to avoid icy roads, but they forget that it can be a safer summer option.
  • Hit the shade. I know some routes that are mostly shaded and this can make a difference. Many rail trails have large shaded portions.
  • Hit the trails! I am a road runner, but I have found solace this summer running on the trails. The trees provide protection and relief.

Want to have successful training during these conditions – Remember to SOS – Shorten Or Slow Down! Or perhaps both! What does this mean?

Shorten your run. If you normally run 5 miles in the morning, reduce it to 4 miles. I advise the athletes I coach to think in minutes. If your 5 mile easy run takes you 45 minutes, then run for 45 minutes NOT worrying about the distance covered. This may mean you get in 4.5 miles.

Slow down your run. It is so important especially on easy days to run by effort. Do not be afraid to slow down. Have the confidence in your running to not judge your ability by your pace. My normal easy run pace is around 8:00. The other day I went for a run, and it was 8:40. Give yourself permission to slow down! By the way, I find running on trails helps me to slow down. I know the GPS is not as accurate, and the varied terrain also impacts pace. I find myself able to relax and enjoy my runs on trails, even the hot ones!

What if you have a speed workout? There are times when you need to hit your goal paces. It is fine to adjust workouts as well so you come away feeling successful. There are a number of ways to adjust workouts as well, without slowing down your goal pace. One option is to decrease the number of repetitions. If the workout calls for 6 x 800 meters, adjust it to 4 or 5 repetitions. Another option is to walk the recovery or increase the recovery time. If the 6 x 800 meters had a 2:00 minute rest, consider increasing the time to 3:00 minutes.

Want to learn more? Read this article from Runners Connect: https://runnersconnect.net/dew-point-effect-running/

I use these tables to help advise my athletes in the summer.


Add together air temperature and dew point and see where the combined number places you on the following adjustment chart:

100 or less:   no pace adjustment
101 to 110:   0% to 0.5% pace adjustment
111 to 120:   0.5% to 1.0% pace adjustment
121 to 130:   1.0% to 2.0% pace adjustment
131 to 140:   2.0% to 3.0% pace adjustment
141 to 150:   3.0% to 4.5% pace adjustment
151 to 160:   4.5% to 6.0% pace adjustment
161 to 170:   6.0% to 8.0% pace adjustment
171 to 180:   8.0% to 10.0% pace adjustment
Above 180:   hard running not recommended

Remember, SOS! – And although these calculators are helpful, it is more important to listen to your body and learn to run by effort.

By fastmaster262

A nationally ranked master marathoner focusing on a holistic approach to training and coaching. Marathon PR 2:53:13 in 2018.

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