The Trick to Acclimating to Heat

Hate running in the heat and humidity every summer? You’re not alone, and it’s not your fault.  While some people love running in the heat (so I’m told), many runners are riding the struggle bus from May through August as they struggle to adjust to the soaring temperatures and stifling dampness in the air. Have you ever wondered why running doesn’t seem like it’s getting easier, even though we’re now well into the summer? If your fall marathon goals feel like an impossible dream, you’re not the only one. 

Route 66 Marathon Training

Before throwing in that sweat-soaked towel entirely, ask yourself this question: how much time do you actually spend outside? If your answer is “the amount of time it takes me to finish my nightmare of a run,” you’ve just solved the mystery of why you’re not acclimating to the heat.  Think about it: if you spend 30-60 minutes outside during your run each day and then spend the other 23-23.5 hours inside in the air conditioning (and who can blame you if you do), it’s going to be a challenge for your body to get used to the heat. Since it’s unlikely that your boss will let you move your desk outside into the direct sunlight, there is a way to speed up your acclimation with a little more exposure.

Increasing your exposure to the heat and humidity is easy if you break it up into small chunks throughout the day.  If you live in an area of high humidity like we do here in Tulsa, you’ve undoubtedly learned that humidity is higher in the mornings, while the temperature is cooler. By contrast, it is less humid, but hotter, later in the day. Getting used to both types of weather can help your body acclimate more quickly and make your runs feel just a little easier! We recommend getting outside for a few minutes three times a day: morning, midday, and evening. A typical day might look like this:

  •         Morning: Early morning run, 30-60 minutes
  •         Lunch: 15-30 minute walk outdoors during lunch break
  •         Evening: 15-30 minute walk after dinner

With just a couple extra short walks, you just doubled the amount of time you are spending outdoors, thereby giving your body double the time to adjust! Amazing, right? If the above schedule doesn’t work for your lifestyle, feel free to move them around – there are no rules here. Worried about getting sweaty and needing to go back to the office? Remember that your walks do not need to be a hard effort or a brisk pace. Your goal is to get your body used to the feeling of the heat and humidity throughout the day. Try it and see what happens to your training!

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