I’ve just returned from back-to-back weekends in Baltimore, and you know what that means: time to post a series of snapshots of an adolescent canine under the thinly veiled guise of offering legitimate running advice. Alright, team. Let the charade begin.
Today, in honor of New York City’s sustained triple-digit thermometric reading, I’d like to discuss strategies for maintaining fitness during summer’s hottest days. And what better spokeswoman for the impact of heat than a fur-covered quadruped unable to regulate her own internal body temperature? Enter Keira, stage left.
Running in the summer is hard for a whole host of reasons—the ambient heat speeds up your heart rate, triggers dehydration and makes it difficult to keep your core temperature down, not to mention makes post-work happy hours all the more appealing—but with most of the major marathons slated for autumn, forgoing workouts simply because the federal government has issued a weather state of emergency is unfortunately not an option.
However, with some careful planning and a little creativity, it’s possible to keep your fitness levels elevated even when the mercury is on the rise. Below are some strategies as depicted by Anne’s best friend.
Wake up early. Tell your friends you’re training for a marathon and they’ll wonder if you’re crazy. Tell them you wake up at 5 a.m. on the weekends for your long runs and you’ll remove all doubt. Still, if you’re planning to log more than 10 miles at a time on a hot summer day, rising alongside the sun is a foolproof way to beat the heat. The aim is to finish your workout while your shadow is still two-times the length of your body. Returning to bed when you’re finished is a totally acceptable post-run recovery plan.
Dress well. It seems like just yesterday I was advising on winter running gear, but choosing the correct summer duds is just as key. Invest in good wicking shorts and tank tops, sweat-proof sunscreen, a face-shading visor (better than a hat, which won’t allow heat to escape) and enough anti-chaffing body glide to coat a small nation.
Stay hydrated. This one is simply non-negotiable. Last Saturday, I met my girl Meredith for a long-run in Baltimore and–having grown so used to Central Park’s abundance of fountains–didn’t think to bring my own fluids. Big mistake. Although we successfully tracked down one water fountain around mile 6, by mile 9 of my 10-miler, I was too light-headed to make it up a hill. For the first time ever, I had to slow to a walk mid-long run and regain my balance before pressing on. Don’t let it happen to you. Carry water with you, get a hydration belt, plot your route around fountains or plan to stop half-way and buy a bottle. Also, make sure you go into your run well-hydrated and replace both the water—and the salt—as soon as you’re home. Gatorade or seawater are both appropriate options.
Stay inside. If the weather truly becomes too hot to handle, there’s no shame in moving your workout indoors. I hate treadmills as much as the next guy, but as I also hate heatstroke, sometimes the machine is the lesser of evils. Can’t bear the electric belt? Jump on the elliptical or take a zumba class or practice your strokes in an indoor pool—whatever gets your heart a’thumpin. Or split up a long run and do five miles outside followed by five miles on the treadmill in rapid succession. You can’t sub out a scheduled run every single day and properly train for a marathon, but a few indoor substitutions on the hottest of days never hurt anyone.
How do you maintain fitness all July long? “By constantly photographing a moving model” is a totally acceptable response.