Summer is the ideal time for running because you don’t have to worry about toques, gloves, or layering, but with hot weather comes more sweat and more need to hydrate properly. Hot weather can make even a short run feel like a trudge through the mud. As the sun beats down, your core temperature rises, sending blood away from muscles to the surface of skin to help heat dissipate. So what can you do to protect yourself from the sun and keep your training on schedule?
If you move your long run to the A.M and start at 5 or 6 a.m., make sure you’ve had a solid night’s rest, this can enhance heat tolerance. Avoid out-and-back routes because they eliminate your option to bail or tweak your expectations (many of us are around 10 percent slower in the heat). Try running for time instead of distance on extremely hot days: If an 18-miler normally takes you three hours, run for three hours at the same effort level and forget about distance. Taking run pre-cautions such as staying hydrated throughout the day or lining your route with water bottles before-hand is a great way to stay hydrated and fueled during longer summer runs.
We’ve all heard the warning, ‘if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated’ – which is about 90% accurate. Our bodies are great for telling us what they need and the thirst sensation is a good indicator that your body needs more fluids, however, while exercising we need to account for the fluids and electrolytes that we are sweating out. It is possible for our bodies to become dehydrated before the thirst sensation kicks in, additionally, it is wise to hydrate before exercise and re-hydrate afterwards to replace the fluids we have lost through sweating. This notion has two practical consequences: You can trust your sense of thirst during a run, but you have to repay that fluid debt after you finish—otherwise, the next day, you’ll have nothing left to borrow.
So how do we stay properly hydrated on our long training runs and between aid stations on race day? The answer is held at your local running specialty shop (The Running Factory) in the form of hydration packs, hand-held bottles, and hydration belts. Depending on your activity the staff at the RF can help guide you to the perfect product for you.
Hand-held bottles are ergonomically designed, lightweight, pocketed (for gels, bites, or beans), and are available in 7oz / 10oz / 12oz / 22oz bottles. These are perfect for training runs or racing because you can store your personal items, fuels, gels, and your preferred liquid. If you don’t like the idea of holding something while you are running we also stock hydration belts that allow you to have between 2 – 4 bottles, zippered pockets (with the option to add additional pockets), and free up your hands for a more natural running experience. These belts are fully adjustable so they fit snugly around your hips and use a soft Velcro fastening. The extra bottles allotted with the belts allow you to carry water and other fluids if you so wish. This gives you the ability to hydrate and refuel (using sports drinks) without stopping to re-mix bottles. All bottles from Fuelbelt* are BPA free, dishwasher safe, and the RF stocks spare bottles and caps to replace old, broken, or lost items.
In the case you don’t like the idea of wearing a belt while running the RF also stocks hydration packs from Nathan*. Hydration packs offer an ideal balance of weight, storage capacity, and durability to even the most weight-conscious distance runners. Hydration packs are a versatile, lightweight solution for both runners and cyclists to "wear your water", with thoughtfully-placed, on-board storage for nutrition and key running essentials or bike tools. Both styles we carry are equipped with a 2L bladder with quick-release hose connector for easy cleaning, over the shoulder load lifters that keep water and gear close to the body for maximum no-bounce comfort, and easily accessed front bottle pockets with stretch mesh stash for holding several gels. The Vapor* also offers a front pocket with “wipe clean” surface for easy storage of empty gel wrappers, water-resistant pill pocket, front zip smartphone compatible pocket, and reflective decals for runs that last from dusk to dawn. Because of the water and fuel capacity of hydration packs, they are ideal for runners covering anything from a half marathon to 100 miles.
When it comes to picking the perfect product for you there is no exact science. By discussing your training and racing goals as well as your personal preferences, we can help guide you to selecting the best hydration products for you. Hydration is easily overlooked but if you keep your body properly fueled you can train better and perform your best!