Humidity: Let’s Get Practical

It should be no surprise to you that I absolutely love to run hills in training. My favorite trail, lately is mostly hills.  Now, I get to add humidity to my training recipe. DOUBLE LOVE.

I talk about this every year, as a reminder, as an encouragement. You cannot live in Middle Tennessee and train for races or run for leisure in the summer without having to deal with humidity.

Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

Meaghen Brown Outside OnlineThe Positive Benefits of Training in the Heat

Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. “Heat acclimation provides more substantial environmental specific improvements in aerobic performance than altitude acclimation,” he says. And in contrast to the live low, train high philosophy, we more quickly adapt to heat stress than we do to hypoxia. In other words, heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Training Effect

Numerous studies have shown that training in heated conditions, two to three times per week for 20 to 90 minutes, can produce a multitude of beneficial training effects. These include:

  • Lower core temperature at the onset of sweating
  • Increased plasma volume (Plasma is the liquid component in your blood. If the volume is increased, you can send blood to cool your skin without compromising the supply carrying oxygen to your muscles.) *To produce more sweat
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Increased oxygen consumption
  • Improved exercise economy

Allie Burdick, Competitor Running Online, “Why Runners Should Train in the Heat

Let’s get practical: Slow down. Be patient. Relax. Bring Water. Drink electrolytes. Have a route with plenty of water stops. Dress appropriately.

Slow down: I run approximately 1-2 minutes slower on humid days, and 2-3 minutes slower on really hot/humid days. I can run closer to my “cool temp” pace, if I push. But, as we are just entering the “heat/humidity”, it is important to slow down and to get your body comfortable sweating, dripping, being hot.

Relax and be patient: I think these go together. I certainly do not go out on a run with a temp of 75 degrees, “feels like” of 80 and give myself a time limit or try to squeeze in a run before an appointment. I have really enjoyed slowing down, getting out, being okay with being slower. Walk, if you feel like your heart rate is getting too high. It will lower your heart rate a bit and give you a break. If you need to stop, to cool off, find a shady spot to stop in.

Bring water and drink electrolytes: this to me is not optional. Carrying a handheld gives me a “cup” for water refills. If I am starting a run with a temperature above 80 degrees, I will make sure to drink electrolytes and water. I find that I need more than just water. *Also remember to “drink before you run”. Do not use your long run to catch up on water intake. Drink before you run, drink during your run, drink after your run.

Route with water stops/shade: This is important for a longer run. Run in the shade as much as is possible. Even a portion of a run in the shade will give your body a break.

Dress appropriately: I like to wear compression shorts in the summer, if I am running long. I do not feel nearly as wet and I usually do not need to bring a change of shorts. I also like to wear a “bra top” or just a sport’s bra. I know that some of you are thinking. . . “there is NO way I am running in a sport’s bra without a shirt”. Okay! Find the lightest tank possible to wear over your bra and choose a light color.

*Ladies-as hormones fluctuate during the month, so does your body’s ability to cool itself off. During the second half of your menstrual cycle, your body must reach a higher temperature before your thermostat compensates and begins to cool itself. In other words, you will be hotter before sweating starts to cool you off. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s