Eight Tips to Survive Summer Training (Part 1)

As the mercury continues to rise on the thermometer, check out these great tips from Shannon McGinn, USTAF and RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and the owner of Creating Momentum, LLC

In order to race at goal pace, we need to train at specific training paces. However, high heat and/or humidity can makes targeting the planned paces unrealistic. Heat and humidity increases training intensity. As a result, we do not actually need to nail those training paces in the worst of summer weather in order to have a shot at a great Fall race.

Below you will find the first 4 of 8 tips to help you survive summer training and still keep your training on track:

(1) Avoid the hottest part of the day: Humidity can be a little higher in the AM, but when temperatures are as much as 20 degrees cooler, this trade off is strongly in our favor.

info_water(2) Increase hydration, but use caution: About 10-20 oz per hour is sufficient for runs over an hour. You may need to drink up to 30 oz per hour for runs of ANY length in hot humid weather. But too much hydration can be dangerous. Hyponatremia occurs when we consume so much fluid that we dilute our sodium. Low sodium can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, cramping, seizures, and/or coma. Your body may not be able to process fluid fast enough and brain swelling could become be a real danger. If your stomach is sloshing from fluid and you cannot satiate your thirst, your only choice is to slow down and/or stop training.

(3) Use water and/or ice: Dousing yourself with cool water, especially in a race, can help a lot. Try filling a bandana with ice and tying it around your neck.ets start

(4) Consider sodium: Salt residue on your skin does not necessarily mean you are a “salty sweater” and need to replace sodium. The opposite is often true. Salt residue is common when weather first warms up, but if this doesn’t resolve over time it can mean that you have excess salt in your system. The body is a smart machine. It wants to survive. There are mechanisms in place to allow the body to retain the appropriate balance of sodium.

However some believe that a little bit of sodium can help the body absorb fluids easier. A sports drink can help. If you would like to try adding a small amount of sodium, I recommend that during long runs of 2 hours or more consider taking one salt packet (the kind you find at fast food restaurants) each hour. I prefer salt packets because they absorb quickly, unlike electrolyte tablets which are encased in gel caps and take time to digest.

Finally, studies have found that just the taste of salt (before the body even absorbs it) can stop cramping almost immediately. Regardless of what actually causes a cramp, if we know tasting salt can help alleviate it, then carrying a little salt in hot weather is not a bad idea.

Check back tomorrow for more tips in part 2.

Good Luck and Stay Safe! If you have any questions, please send an email to shanmcginn@gmail.com


Shannon McGinn is an USTAF and RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and the owner of Creating Momentum, LLC.  She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sports Psychology. She is a life-long runner, becoming more involved in racing after surviving cancer.  She considers herself a marathon and ultramarathon specialist, earning several USATF National Championship top 10 or better placements in the 50k and 50M distances. She has not missed a day of running since December 2011.


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