Exercising in the heat can create many challenges. Hydrating, food intake, proper clothing choice, and many other factors are essential to keeping you out there on a sweltering day. Many people think water is the key to a hot day...sure it is...but you NEED electrolytes or your body will suffer. It is also important to understand how to carry your fluids as well. This can carry over to not only hot days, but any training day. I am going to break it down for you to help with training, racing, and general exercise during those hot days.
I have a very vivid memory of running in Florida and training for the Vermont City Marathon half marathon I was going to split with my dad. Unfortunately, my training runs had to be done in the middle of the day to work with my school schedule. I certainly wasn’t a morning person either, so that was out of the question. I ran 10 miles in 110 degree heat and extreme humidity with one single poland spring water bottle. As soon as I stepped outside, I took my shorts off and just ran in my spandex undershorts. It was way too hot for extra layers. The water was not enough. I needed more, a lot more. I needed electrolytes, I needed carbs, sugar, sodium.
I returned from my run and had sweats that would not stop and I was shivering. The run took a lot out of me. I had a headache the rest of the day and found it very hard to gain my energy back. After this run, I thought a lot differently about hydration and how important it is and what mistakes to avoid in the future.
1. What to Eat + Drink
First of all I wish I had something to mix with my water. This would have helped substantially replenishing my lost nutrients throughout the run. My favorite drink is the Honey Stinger Black Cherry Hydration mix (soon to be carried at Skirack). It tastes great and offers an amazing balance of caffeine, sodium, carbs, and potassium.
I also wish that I had more knowledge about hydrating when exercising. I knew that it was important but I did not know what to drink, what to eat, when to eat it, when to drink it, etc. It is key to know how to replenish your body when pushing it to its limits. I highly recommend finding a drink or snack that works for you. For me, I like to drink consistently throughout my run right off the bat. This eliminates bonking early. If you start to eat/drink when you don’t feel good...it is far too late. For half marathons I have one GU at mile 8 and that provides me the extra kick to finish out strong. Marathons I would recommend using 4-5 GU’s, and a hydration mix as well. It will take a lot of testing initially but can really help you out once you find what works.
2. Water Bottles + Hydration Vests
For long runs, 10 miles+, I prefer to use a hydration vest. It offers plenty of space for fluids. Some come with a hydration bladder, while some don’t. I like the vests that come with a bladder due to the fact you can always add more space for fluids with a soft flask or small bottle. The vests that don’t come with a bladder generally do not allow space for a bladder to be added to it. Vests also offer lots of space for snacks, layers, money, phone, etc.
3. Where + When
Location is also very important when considering your options for exercising in the heat. If you know it will be a very open area with sun beating down on you, that may be quite a challenge. This is where trail running or biking can be perfect for those hot days. You will have much more tree coverage, therefore keeping you cooler longer. The road on a hot day is brutal. Hot cars whizzing by doesn’t help either!
Depending on where you live, the best time of day to knock out your activity would be in the morning between 5-8am. Usually you avoid heavier traffic at this time as well. Evening from 5-8pm is great as well. Plus, it's lighter later now! Wahoo!
4. What to Wear
Wearing the right clothing is absolutely crucial. Moisture wicking, breathable, light-colored and lightweight clothing will help move the heat out and not hold in sweat, thus keeping you much cooler. There is nothing worse than feeling bogged down. Avoid cotton at all costs or having too many layers, which will make you overheat quickly. Personally, I almost always run in a tank top and shorts. I prefer to be as cool and comfortable as possible.
Lastly, tell someone where you are going, when you are leaving and your estimated time. It is important to have someone aware of where you will be going. Hopefully no emergencies will ever happen, whether it is hot or cold, friends and family members should know of your whereabouts.
I hope this provides you with a bit more insight on exercising and staying hydrated in the heat. As always, feel free to stop by the Skirack to chat with us, we’d be happy to inform you on the products we carry and offer some additional tips. Remember, everyone is different and what may work for one person may not work for another.
- Clarke Shedd,
Skirack Run Specialist
Click here to learn more about Clarke.