Summer Runnin' - Beat the Heat with These Cool Tips
The days are getting longer and temps are on the rise! Break out those running shoes because you're sure to enjoy some long runs with these summer tips.
Several weeks back I wrote an article about running in cold weather. In the article I mentioned many great benefits of cold weather running. Well, every season has it's benefits and I want to bust some myths and bring out some important facts of running in the hot summer months, while giving you tips to stay safe. First, let's start with a couple of common questions I get.
Is it safe to run in the heat?
Absolutely...if you're smart about it. Heat can make you sweat more and lead to faster dehydration. If you're not acclimated to the heat, it can also make you feel weak, or even sick if you try to push too hard. Be easy on your body and smart with your running by taking time to get used to the heat. Give yourself a week or two of easy, shorter runs before you start to build.
Does heat affect my running?
Just like running in the cold impacts our performance, so does running in the heat (but with the opposite affect). My hardest runs have been during the hot summer months, where those same runs in the cool of late fall feel so much easier. Heat and humidity make the body work harder to cool itself down, pumping more blood and increasing our heart rate. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic reported that our hearts "may circulate two to four times as much blood each minute as it does on a cool day" in an effort to cool us down. Now that's just plain exhausting!
10 tips to run safely and beat the heat
1. Carry fluids
This should be obvious, but I can't tell you home many times I've come across runners who have no water on them and I've shared mine. You will need 2 to 3 times the amount of water you would drink during a cool weather run. On top of that, start incorporating electrolytes into your water. I like HerHydration and Nuun, but Tailwind is my husband's go-to. Find what works for you and make sure you use it. Nausea, headaches, and lightheadedness are all warning signs of dehydration. You should be drinking 6 to 12 ounces every 30 minutes of exercise to prevent dehydration. Fluid intake is key (and number 1 on my list).
2. Slow down
Get in a mental mindset that your running will start slow, end slow, and be slow in the middle. Remember that whole thing I wrote above about your body circulating 2 to 4 times the amount of blood PER MINUTE on a hot day than a cool one? Yeah, think about that while you're trying to break the land speed record. Don't over-exert yourself. Do take it slow.
3. Dress appropriately
Show those shoulders. Flaunt those thighs. Just make sure to wear light-weight, moisture-wicking clothing to help keep you cool while you run. If your running clothes are cotton, think about getting something else. Cotton doesn't wick. Get something that's made for running and uses high quality polyester. I also like to wear a baseball cap and sunglasses to help keep the sun off my face.
4. Wear sunscreen
Sun exposure is a serious topic. I've had a chunk of my neck removed because of melanoma. For the love of your skin, wear sunscreen! They have sweat-resistant SPF 70 that lasts a long time. Remember those often forgotten places like the back of your neck, your ears, and the part line in your hair. Just don't get it in your eyes - ouch!
5. Hydrate up
I know I already talked about carrying water, but you should also be drinking more water in the summer months just to keep your body hydrated. Drink and extra 8 to 12 ounces 30 minutes before you go running. This is a great time to drink those electrolytes!
6. Run in the morning or evening
If possible, run before it gets really hot or after it starts to cool down. Running in the morning has the added benefit of getting your workout in early on, minimizing the chance you'll skip it and setting a positive tone for your day. Evening runs are also enjoyable, especially if you're training 2-a-days. If you're running around dusk or in the dark, be sure to carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp.
7. Look for shade
Planning a shady route can make your run even more enjoyable. Often shady routes are more scenic and you'll get the added benefit of keeping the sun off your skin for a cooler run.
8. Carry a cooling cloth
There are a lot of options for cooling cloths, from towels to gaiters. This article lists some great options, with a breakdown on the differences between each of them. I love using a gaiter because of it's versatility.
9. Take walking breaks
It's okay to walk it out if you're feeling extra tired. You're still getting the benefit of exercise, and letting your body recover. Generally, you should be able to keep up light conversation while you're running. If you can't, you may be over-exerting yourself.
10. Listen to your body
I thought about putting this as number 1, but thought that putting it last would make it just as memorable. We usually remember the first and the last of what we read better than what is in the middle. Your body will tell you when it can keep going or has had enough and needs a break. Your body will tell you when it's thirsty or hungry. Listen to your body. It is your greatest indicator of staying safe on your runs.
I hope these tips help you to feel more confident in getting out and enjoying the endless summer roads and trails. Let me know if there's a specific topic you'd like to learn more about and I'll write a post.