If you hadn’t noticed by now, it’s really freaking hot outside. And unfortunately, we’re only just getting started with summer temps. It’s only getting worse from here.
Good nutrition is critical for successful summer training. Exercising in the heat means our body is working even harder than usual, and we’re having to take even more care to prevent heat exhaustion. Here are a few tips to help you keep going when it’s toasty outside:
1. Hydrate early and often. You should be well-hydrated before your run starts. Make sure you are drinking electrolyte solutions before your run as well as during exercise (if the run is >45 minutes). Pro-tip – all fluids count toward your hydration (although the ones that contain caffeine and alcohol are also diuretics) – you don’t need to just drink a ton of water.
2. Pass the salt. Particularly if you’re a salty sweater, many athletes need extra sodium during summer training. Eating salty foods also helps you take in electrolytes beyond what your electrolyte drink contains. Try broth or soup, pickles, or salty snacks – or just add some salt to your plate.
3. Eat your electrolytes. Sodium’s not the only electrolyte your body needs! Potassium can be found in fruits and vegetables like avocado, potato, leafy greens, citrus fruit, and bananas. Magnesium is found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, and beans. Calcium sources include dairy (or fortified plant milks and juices), sardines or salmon, and leafy greens.
4. Cool down ahead of time. Consider eating or drinking cold foods and beverages (ice water, popsicles, etc), which can help lower your core temperature so you can handle a higher level of exertion. If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can also place frozen or cold beverages along your route to help cool you down mid-run.
5. Recover right. Summer exercise is taxing on your body. Make sure you have your recovery fuel plan ready to go so you can get nutrition in your body ASAP. If you tend to feel sick after longer runs in the heat or just not hungry, I recommend trying liquids – either something like chocolate milk, a carb-containing recovery drink or smoothie, or even something like an Ensure or Boost. Remember, if you’re working out longer than an hour, aim to consume something with carbs and protein within an hour of finishing the run. Oh, and make sure you’re drinking fluids to re-hydrate, too.
Warm-weather running is a challenge for us all, but with the right nutrition strategy, you can keep logging miles even in the dog days of summer. If you feel like you need more help building your plan for summer training, I’d love to hear from you!