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Keeping your runner’s high in high temperatures

Chris, on the right, and his brother John at the Half-Ironman to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation
Chris, on the right, and his brother John at the Half-Ironman to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation

For runners, August is the cruelest month, breeding laziness as the island of Manhattan heats up. Whether you’re training for the NYC Marathon or just looking ahead to a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, it takes motivation this month to lace up those sneakers and hit the tarmac. We turned to our favorite running coach and Equinox trainer, Chris Heuisler, for some hot-weather training advice. A long-distance runner himself, Chris and his brother John are in the process of completing a marathon in every state.

Is it ever too hot to run?
Definitely. For example, if you get outside and start sweating immediately, it’s probably too hot. Let common sense dictate what to do on those really hot days. That said, if you know it’s going to be hot, get out the door early, before sunrise or just after.

What are your favorite hot weather runs in NYC?
Central Park has lots of shady areas, so I’d take a run in the park over a run on the West Side Highway on a hot and sunny day. The other advantage to the park is that you can find a water fountain pretty easily.

Is there a general rule for hydration in the hot weather?
Everybody perspires differently, so I’m hesitant to give you a general rule for hydration. Some say that for every 20-30 minutes of running you should drink 6-8 ounces of water. I think that’s a little excessive. Each person should determine their own water intake during runs through trial and error (making sure that the “error” here isn’t a really extreme one, of course). Recently, in marathons, we’ve seen an increase in runners who actually over-hydrate, so that should be avoided as well. Also, hydration the day or night before a long run is just as important as hydration during the run. If you know you’re running more than 10 miles the next day and it’s going to be hot outside, it would be wise to drink more water or sports drink than normal.

Anything else runners should bear in mind in high temperatures?
If you’re running in the heat, expect to run slower. Don’t get down on yourself if, after a run, you look at your watch and realize it took you ten minutes longer to run 5 miles than it did on a cooler day. If it’s 90 degrees outside, that’s perfectly normal.

How do you keep from getting an August runner’s slump?
Mix it up. For runners in training, it can be hard to get in all of your scheduled runs. So, if you’re due to run 8 miles and the weather’s exceptionally hot, run 4 miles in the morning and then 4 at night. That gives your body time to recover, you’re getting the 8 scheduled miles. Or, maybe run 4 miles in the morning and then ride a bike for an hour. If the running becomes monotonous, look for other ways to motivate yourself. Finally, by writing down my schedule for a planned fall race, I have something to answer to. There are no excuses that way. I see that sheet of paper and it reminds me that if I want a good race day in the fall, I have to get those runs in.

Do you have any tricks for keeping motivated in the summer or have any cool routes around the city to share? Tell us!