When gentle spring days give way to the heat of summer, you’ll start to feel the difference in your run. Even slight temperature increases can slow the pace of the most experienced runner and create serious risks for dehydration and heat stroke.
Hot days don’t mean that you have to skip your run altogether, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly either. Use these tips to make sure that you take care of your body while running during the heat of summer.
1. Hydrate in advance
If you wait to drink until you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost half the battle. Drink a glass or two of water before going on your run to be optimally hydrated while you’re out. Runner’s World Magazine recommended drinking 16 ounces of water or a sports drink an hour before you start your run. The magazine also suggested avoiding alcohol, as it can have a dehydrating effect on your body.
2. Plan your route accordingly
Before you start your run, try to find grassy, shaded areas to incorporate into your normal route, as asphalt and concrete retain heat. If you live by a lake, river or ocean, consider taking your run to that area during the summer. You might get a cool breeze off of the water, and you can find a safe spot to jump in if you need to cool off at the end of your workout.
3. Wear lightweight clothing
Jackets and pants aren’t the only things to avoid when running in the summer. Make sure you also pass on any fabrics that don’t breathe well. If you’re looking to invest in some clothes specifically for the summer, look for running gear made from fabrics that are meant to keep you cool. You should also opt for light colors, as darker shades will absorb more heat from the sun, warming up your body. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses and sunscreen if you’re going to be out in the sun, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
4. Run early or late in the day
One of the easiest ways to avoid overheating during the summer is to go on your runs early in the morning or in the evening. The air will be cooler and you’ll avoid the sun beating directly down on you as you run. It might take a little extra intentionality on your part, but avoiding the hottest parts of the day is well worth it. If you think you’ll be tempted to hit the snooze button in the morning but don’t have time to run later in the day, try to find a running buddy to keep you accountable.
5. Leave sweat on your face
It may sound gross, but try to avoid wiping sweat off of your face. According to Fitness Magazine, sweat is actually your body’s way of keeping cool, so wiping it away means that you’re also losing the benefits that it provides. Your body is cooled as sweat evaporates, so you’ll actually feel better if you leave it alone.
6. Give yourself time to adjust
Your body won’t adjust from cool to hot weather in a day. Give yourself about two weeks to adjust to the warm weather. Instead of measuring your run by time or distance, listen to your body and wrap it up once you feel that you’ve exerted yourself enough for one day.
Don’t be afraid to slow down if you start to get too hot. Power walk or jog for two to four minutes, keeping an eye on the time with your favorite Baby-G digital watch, to allow your body time to cool down, and then speed back up.
7. Sign up for races in the fall
It’s one thing to take it a little easy while you’re training. But if you have a big race that you’ve spent months preparing for, you’ll want to perform your best. Unless there’s a particular race that you want to run during the summer months, consider signing up for one in the fall instead. That way you won’t have to deal with the extreme heat on the day of your race or towards the end of your training when you should be going on your longest runs.
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