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  • Writer's pictureTim Bradley, Sr. Director of Training/Interim Executive Dir.

Ask Coach Bradley - Adjusting Runs For Heat

Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Director of Training and Head Coach Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions!

Q: I have noticed that on days where the weather is excessively warm, I have a harder time staying on my usual pace during runs. Should I be adjusting my pace when it is hot outside?

A: As doses of hot weather continue to roll in and out of the Chicagoland area this summer, it is important to understand and embrace the concept of heat-adjusted paces. Heat tends to be the most frequent and detrimental factor to training paces during the summer months.

Proper pace adjustments not only help to avoid heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but also help you to avoid overtraining. Runners can familiarize themselves with the different types of heat conditions by visiting the National Weather Service.

Examples of a 5% pace adjustment that should be implemented during an Excessive Heat Watch/Advisory are listed below:

  • 7:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 7:52 pace per mile

  • 8:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 8:24 pace per mile

  • 8:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 8:55 pace per mile

  • 9:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 9:27 pace per mile

  • 9:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 9:58 pace per mile

  • 10:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 10:30 pace per mile

  • 10:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 11:01 pace per mile

  • 11:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 11:33 pace per mile

  • 11:30 pace per mile: 5% slower = 12:04 pace per mile

  • 12:00 pace per mile: 5% slower = 12:36 pace per mile

  • 12+ pace per mile: 5% slower = 12:36 pace per mile to 13:39 pace per mile

The change in pacing is to allow for the prescribed effort of a run to remain where it should be for the intended training goal. Running in hot conditions can be more challenging, and while runners can understandably be focused on pace goals, the most important aspect of training is running the appropriate effort for the appropriate amount of time or distance.

Attempting to maintain a normal pace in adverse conditions not only changes the training adaptation, it over-stresses the body and may become dangerous in extreme conditions.

Some other general tips for your runs include breaking your run into several shorter loops. Running a loop course that brings you back by home or your starting point allows you to end your run early if your body is not cooperating well with the heat. An out and back only course could leave you miles from home at a time when you need to cut a run short.

Going into your run hydrated is crucial. If your urine is not clear or light yellow, you are likely not well hydrated enough to run in these conditions. For more specific tips on hydrating, check out this blog from Allison Koch, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN. In addition to hydrating properly, you should wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. You should also wear a white hat to keep the sun off of your face. Listen to your body and do not try to "push through" heat exhaustion.

Runners should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion including:

  • Confusion

  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Muscle or abdominal cramps

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

  • Pale skin

  • Profuse sweating

  • Rapid heartbeat

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms stop your run immediately, find a cool place to relax, get hydrated, and seek help.

Immediately after completing your run start to lower your body temperature. Use cold water, cold washcloths, ice order to lower body temperature. Find shade as quickly as possible, and begin drinking 20 oz of water immediately following activity. Also, include 32-64 oz of Gatorade or electrolyte drink to balance out sodium and potassium levels. Shower soon after to clean off sweat and salt deposits, unblock pores and continue to cool body temperature down to speed up recovery. Rest as much as possible post-run and stay in cool environments.

For questions on heat-related recommendations or specific questions about how to modify your training due to the heat, please email:


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