This Runner's Trials

How to stay speedy through the summer heat

Posted by runnerstrials

I think my knee is better. I haven't had any knee pain in two weeks, and my quad and IT band area isn't nearly as tight as it was.

Yesterday, I went out for a test run to better gauge my injury status. It was the first time I ran hard since getting hurt, and I'm happy to say I had zero knee pain during the run or in the following 24 hours. Yay!

I did a 5mi tempo run at 7:43 pace with the 3 tempo miles at 7:27. This run was bittersweet, though. I'm thrilled it went so well, but it will likely be my last outdoor speedwork session for awhile.

photo(44) Soaking wet post-run.

The calendar says summer doesn't start for about 6 more weeks, but I beg to differ. I ran at 6:15 a.m. It was 68 degrees with 97% humidity. And it's only going to get much worse.

Running in the heat and humidity sucks. Really. This type of weather sucks your energy, speed, determination, and love for the sport out with each drop of sweat. I loathe summer running.

I also hate running slowly. Unfortunately, running fast outside during the summer just doesn't work for me. I've tried many times to hit target tempo or interval paces on summer mornings- you know, during the cool, "comfortable" part of the day- but I always fall short of my goal.

The only way I've been able to maintain my speed during the summer months is by doing all speed workouts on the treadmill. I know, I know. But it's the only way I can get in quality speedwork in the summer. It's also an opportunity for your body to learn goal paces. If you consistently do speed workouts at the same pace, chances are you're going to run pretty darn close to that pace once race day rolls around come fall.

I try to do the rest of my training runs outside (unless it's ridiculously hot). If I crave an intense, outdoor workout in the summer, I hop on the bike. The heat doesn't bother me nearly as much when I'm cycling due to the breeze created by the bike's speed. That or I'm just not working as hard as I think I am on the bike, which is possible.


Summer running doesn't have to be completely miserable if you play it safe and tweak your expectations. From May- September, my easy run pace is much slower*, I need to carry Gatorade + water with me no matter what distance I'm running, walk breaks become the norm, and sunscreen always gets in my eyes. Not exactly fun but it sure beats not running.

Besides, overcoming the hurdles of summer running and hitting your speedwork goals on the treadmill will make fall running feel that much better. I can't wait! Only 5ish more months to go…

*This is especially true in the beginning of the summer. It takes our bodies about 10 days to get used to exercising in a new climate (source).

Disclaimer: I am the furthest thing from a running expert. This is simply what works for me. If you're going to run in the heat, please be safe. Be mindful of the heat index and stay indoors when it's too hot, avoid running during midday, seek shade, stay hydrated, wear a hat, take breaks, and always wear sunscreen. Try taking a quick, cool shower right before you head out for a hot run, too. It really helps! (But don't forget the sunscreen.)

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