Don’t look now, but fall race season is coming quick and many of the runners that I follow on social media are already getting started with their training.
But too many of them are doing so on their treadmills, and in doing so, are missing out on some of the physiological benefits of running in the summer heat.
Yes, you heard correctly, there are benefits to running in the summer heat.
How Your Body Reacts to Running in the Summer Heat
We all know that our body sweats to help us stay cool on a hot day. (If you need a refresher, here ya go.)
And if you’re running (or doing anything else that causes a rise in core temperature) you’re going to sweat even more in order to keep your core temperature within the safe range.
But how does the sweating actually happen?
When your body temperature rises, your body sends more blood flow to the surface to increase the amount of sweat you produce and speed the process of cooling your body.
So when you’re running in the summer heat, your legs and muscles are getting less blood flow (which means less oxygen delivery, fewer nutrients, a decreased ability to remove waste products) than they would if the temperatures were cooler. And if you’re consistently training in the heat, your body will naturally increase your plasma volume (the liquid in your blood) as well.
So What’s the Benefit of Running in the Summer Heat?
It’s simple, really.
If you’re training in the heat, you’re body is working extra hard to not only meet the physical demands of your workout, but to do so while keeping your body temperature at a safe level.
When your fall rolls around and the temperatures are cooler, it’s amazing how much faster you’re able to run because your body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you cool. Instead of going to the skin to increase the amount you perspire, most the blood is going to your legs to power your run and you might almost feel like you’re flying!
Since we moved to Florida, I’ve witnessed this impact ever year.
During the summer months, I feel like I’m working super hard but seeing little to no improvement.
Then out of no where, I’ll set a huge PR once the weather cools.
Embrace Running in the Summer Heat
So the next time you think it might be too hot to get outside and go for a run, I’d encourage you to skip the treadmill, slather up in sun tan lotion, grab some sunglasses, and get outside.
Sure, it might be miserable now, but the payoff will be well worth it once the weather cools!
And make sure you check out a couple of older posts about staying safe (and being smart) when you’re running in the summer heat.