Summer Running: Where The Pace Doesn’t Matter And The Effort Is King

Summer Running can be tough, it can be harsh and it will be unforgiving.

Growing up in St. Louis, and now living in Kansas City, you learn to cope with the ridiculous humidity that comes from living in a midwest river town. Running was always done in the morning and if you slept in, you were better off waiting until sundown to fit your miles in – we’re talking over 80% humidity in St. Louis most days.

Summer Running

Heat has a large negative impact on both your perceived effort and your actual ability to pace yourself. Check out this tool from Runners Connect and mess around with it a little bit. As an example, my easy pace today for a 9 mile run would be 21 seconds slower than average on the same perceived effort. The slower the pace/the higher the effort level – the more it will be impacted by this calculator.

The idea being that pace doesn’t matter as much in the summer… what I want you to focus on is the effort. Effort because when you start a workout or run too fast in the summer you will be toast, so starting a workout at 7 minute pace or your typical tempo pace will be 10-20 seconds too fast. It will be hard but you need to drill it into your head that TIME DOES NOT MATTER ditching your watch, in fact, may just be the best thing you can do for your summer running.

Summer Running Checklist

“Ok; so temper your effort level, got it… but what else can I do to help my summer running?”

Here’s a checklist of things to look out for the night before and leading up to your run:

  • Hydrate The Night Before

Electrolyte drink + lots of water, that’s how you best prepare for the next day’s run. This means that you might have to forgo those post-dinner drinks… I know that’s a big ask but if you’re wanting to crush a workout you need to make a few sacrifices.

  • Hydrate Before You Run

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aim for approximately 1-ounce of fluids per 10-pounds of body weight at least four hours prior to exercise. If you still feel thirsty two hours prior, 1-ounce per every 15-20-pounds of body weight should quench your thirst. If that doesn’t do it, the National Athletic Trainers Association adds that 7-10-ounces of fluid 10-20 minutes before exercise can help.

  • Chill Out Before You Head Out

Your core temperature is what determines your running performance in the heat; If you can keep yourself chilled before you head out the door it may help with your performance especially on a workout day. Check out this Clinical Journal of sports medicine study which came to the conclusion, “ice slurry (slushy) compared with cold water ingestion prolonged running time to exhaustion in hot and humid conditions, reduced rectal temperature during exercise, and allowed rectal temperature to rise higher before the runner reached exhaustion.”

  • Temper Your Pace

I know I talked about it already but I wanted to make sure it was included in your checklist.

  • Consider Doubling

The heat and humidity effect becomes more drastic the longer you are exposed to conditions. So consider breaking up a 70 minute run into a 45 minute run in the morning and a 25 minute run in the evening… or a 50 minute run into a 30 minute run and a 20 minute run. Especially when we hit triple-digit temperature days (or over 37 degrees for my non-American friends) the elements are unforgiving.

  • Recover, Recover, Recover

The best way to be ready to run tomorrow is to start preparing after your run today. Remember the recovery window; electrolyte drink within 15 minutes post-run, recovery drink 15-30 minutes post-run, A proper meal within 90 minutes post run and hydrating relentlessly during this period.

Would you add anything else to this checklist? How have you been handling summer running so far?

Let me know in the comments of this article or by tweeting me your favorite summer running tip.

Happy Running,




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