An illustration of four individuals running outside is shown. It appears to be a sunny day.
Watch the heat index and listen to your body as you train for your next race or fun run. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Training for the River Bank Run this year is unlike anything that we have seen previously. New date. New time of year. New season to train.

Typically, we are training in winter and spring for the run in May. Now we are training in the heat of summer for an October run.

There have been a significant number of hot and humid days recently and, according to weather forecasts, it looks like we are in for more of the same.

Training in the heat and humidity is not easy, but there are a few things you can do to maintain peak performance.

First, we need to understand how the weather affects training.

You may have noticed that it is more difficult to run in high humidity. There is a reason for feeling more exhausted and fatigued.

Not to get too scientific, but it has to do with the dew point, which is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated with water. The higher the dew point, the more water vapor there is in the air, which makes it feel hotter.

This is important because it affects the sweating and cooling mechanisms of the body. The main way your body cools off is through sweating.

As you work out, your body releases sweat, which evaporates, cools your skin and helps you maintain your core temperature.

When there is a significant amount of water vapor in the air, sweat can’t easily evaporate because the air is already saturated. This makes it hard for your body to maintain its core temperature and may lead to heat injuries because your cardiovascular system is working harder and less efficiently.

Your body can adjust, but it typically takes two weeks and can be challenging because of dew point fluctuation.

So, what can you do to continue your training and maintain performance during those days where going outside and just breathing can be difficult due to the heat and humidity?

I hope some of these tips will get you through the dog days of summer and you can continue to reach your training goals and optimize your runs.

6 ideas for beating the heat:

1. Go for a morning or evening run

Typically, the temperature and dew point are lower early and late in the day. This may not always be the case, so make sure you check the weather first.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

As the temperature rises, your body will work harder to cool down, which leads to more sweat and fluid loss. If you are going for a short run, you should hydrate before and after your run.

If it is a longer run, such as 60 minutes or more, it is a good idea to carry a water bottle or plan your run so you will have access to a drinking fountain.

On longer runs, you should also be replacing electrolytes with sports drinks or gels due to the loss of sodium and potassium, which is released in your sweat.

3. Slow down

If you are fatigued and just not “feeling it” on any given day, slow down.

Once again, the dew point can affect the function of your heart and lungs, which can lead to a strenuous run. If you feel this sensation, consider a slower pace or shorter distance to prevent injury.

4. Choose your location wisely

Asphalt, roads, buildings and open tracks all absorb heat from the sun and transmit and radiate this heat back to your body. Try to find an area with trees or trails where there will be protection from the direct sun.

5. Make your clothing work for you

Invest in quality, moisture-wicking clothing, which will help move sweat away from the body so it can evaporate. Also, lighter colors won’t absorb the heat of the sun.

6. Don’t run outside

As bad as this sounds, there are days when running is not advisable.

As the dew point approaches 70 and above, it is a good idea to work out indoors or postpone your run or training to another day. Keep an eye on the forecast.