Quick Tip: Heart Rate Training in the Summer Heat

I’m of the belief that heart rate training is the best way to make sure that your easy runs stay easy and that your hard runs are truly hard.

Slow Down

If you remember back to my conversation with Matt Fitzgerald where we talked about 80/20 Running, we the talked in depth about the importance of making sure that our easy runs are truly easy and our hard runs are truly hard. We also talked about how difficult it can be to determine our effort level in an objective manner, and that is where monitoring your heart rate comes into play.

To be clear, monitoring your heart rate doesn’t always paint a perfect picture regarding the amount of effort you are exerting, but it is typically a more objective measure than pace or perceived exertion.

Heart Rate Training in the Heat/Humidity

When you’re training in the heat and humidity of summer, or pretty much year round here in Central Florida, heart rate training can be really frustrating because it spikes quickly!

The reason for that is pretty straight forward and entirely physiological: you body is trying to cool itself by sending as much blood to the surface as possible to enable perspiration, meanwhile your muscles are needing extra blood to deliver the nutrients it needs for running.

The only way your body can get more blood to both places is to pump more, and that causes the increase in heart rate.

What Should You Do?

Heart Rate Training in the Heat? Slow Down!

Heart Rate Training in the Heat? Slow Down!

If your training plan calls for you to keep your heart rate in a certain zone/range, training in the summer months basically leaves you with two options:

  • Adjust Your Pace aka Slow Down
  • Run Indoors

Which option you choose certainly depends on your personal preference, and I’m pretty sure you all know which route I choose.

Both options are equally effective, I promise. 

What is the Purpose of Heart Rate Training?

If you subscribe to the idea behind heart rate training, it makes literally zero difference how fast you run.

I don’t care if you’re trying to qualify for Boston, aiming to run your first 5k, or anything in between. All that matters is keeping your heart rate within a certain range for an extended period of time.

Say your target heart rate zone for easy training is 147 beats per minute.

In the summer heat, you may be running 10 minute miles to keep your heart rate in the 145 to 147 bpm range. But if you come indoors and run on the treadmill in the air conditioning, you may be able to run 8:30 pace while keeping your heart rate in the same zone.

So the treadmill is the better option, right?

Heart Rate Training in the Summer

In both cases, you’re working your heart at the appropriate level to achieve the gains you are going for.

Speed is irrelevant in heart rate training; it is basically nothing but a vanity metric.

And for the record, the treadmill is never the better option

Are You a Fan of Heart Rate Training? How Much of a Difference Does the Summer Heat/Humidity Have on Your Heart Rate?

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