The most important factor to consider when training as a distance runner in Louisiana is the heat and how to combat the effects it has on your training. Obviously there are limitations to what we can do, and inevitably we should embrace the fact that the heat has a real impact on the volume and paces associated with training. Although, there are several key components of how to deal with the weather which can used successfully in your training regimen in order to optimize your training.
Run Very Early or Very Late
One of the most intuitive ways to avoid the heat is to literally avoid the heat. Get out before the sun comes up or late when the day is waning. Sure, it can still be very humid and the heat of the day may not have dissipated, but the fact that you are not in the direct sunlight does play a huge role. One of the worst times to run is late morning because of the intense humidity.
Run After Rain
Occasionally we have a good storm that will roll though, sometimes bringing cooler winds with it, even in the summer. If you have control over when you run (as in you don't have to wait for a specific practice time to run) this is a great opportunity to beat the heat, especially when you still have solid cloud cover to block the sun after the shower.
Cross Train Indoors on Recovery Days
If you have a day where you were planning on doing an easy distance run as recovery from a hard track session, consider doing your workout that next day indoors on a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine. This will keep you from running in heat that will zap you further.
Electrolytes are salts that aid in water retention in the body. When we sweat we lose these electrolytes, making it more difficult to keep the water we drink during and after a run in our body. Make sure to add some electrolyte supplements to your water or have a sports drink. Eating foods with moderate sodium content can help this as well.
Run Along Shady Paths
Another intuitive element of dealing with the heat is to find areas to train that avoid direct contact with the sun. You may have an area of trees that can keep you shaded for portions of your run, or if you are like many schools that jog around campus during practice, try to stay in walkways with overhangs.
No matter what you do to avoid the heat, if your body is not recovering properly you will have continued issues with the heat. There is a definitive toll that the elements pay on our bodies and without sleep to allow the regenerative processes we will remain sluggish and lethargic during training. You should be getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep of night if you are in any serious training phase.