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I live in Texas and with the summer coming up, my lunch time runs are becoming less enjoyable.

I have goal races that will occur in September (Olympic Triathlon) and November (Marathon) where the temperatures will be somewhat cooler.

I'm considering moving my workout times to the mornings. If I kept them at lunch is there any benefit to running in the heat?

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Probably not, you're only more likely to overheat and not drink enough while running in the heat. If you can avoid it, I would do that –  Ivo Flipse May 25 '12 at 7:25
    
@IvoFlipse: I guess that's as good an answer as this question will get, I think you should formulate your comment as an answer. –  posdef Jun 8 '12 at 6:14
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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, there are benefits to training in the heat, but there are also risks. As @Ivo pointed out, you are far more likely to overheat / heat stroke / dehydrate when exercising in hot weather. However, if you take the proper precautions, there are benefits to be gained from training in the heat. What's more, these benefits will directly impact your success in the triathlon and marathon you are currently training for.

A study was recently published by the University of Oregon into the athletic benefits of training in hot weather conditions. Specifically, they found that:

Heat acclimation improves the body’s ability to control body temperature, improves sweating and increases blood flow through the skin, and expands blood volume allowing the heart to pump more blood to muscles, organs and the skin as needed.

Interestingly, they found that this hot-weather training had improved the performance of the test group in cold weather conditions by as much as 7% for both the cyclists and runners. Considering the fact that you are training for cold-weather triathlons/marathons, I would say training in the heat is perhaps the best thing you can do to improve your performance. Once again, I cannot stress enough how important it will be to maintain proper hydration and not overexert yourself in the heat.

As far as your moving the workouts to the morning, that could work for you as well. I don't know what the temperature difference is, but I imagine you'll still be training in moderately hot weather even in the morning. So even if you move to the morning you might still be able to take advantage of the benefits of heat acclimation training. Additionally, exercising in the morning has benefits of its own and can allow for more efficient processing of calories / burning of fat. In the study, those who exercised in the morning and over-indulged afterwards had significantly better weight loss results than those on afternoon or sedentary plans. So if you were to switch to the morning workout, you could conceivably eat more food to fuel your exercising while still maintaining your current body weight/fat.

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This is a great link you provided. I agree with reiterating that you must use caution when running in the heat. Last year during August I regularly lost several pounds of water weight during 10 mile runs while still drinking 10 to 15 oz. per mile. –  RWL01 Jul 2 '12 at 12:48
    
It's not all water weight. Don't forget that in extended workouts like this you are burning a massive amount of glycogen which also accounts for weight loss. –  JohnP Jul 2 '12 at 14:52
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