Friday, April 26, 2019

11 Tips for Running and Racing in the Summer Heat

While the longer days of spring and summer might offer you more hours in which you can find time to run, the heat that accompanies this sunny season can also make running sweatier and more fatiguing. Keep yourself safe, healthy, and running injury-free with these 11 important tips:
  1. Run in cooler environments - dark asphalt literally absorbs and radiates heat which can make your summer run feel even hotter. Waterways, on the other hand, like lakes, rivers, and streams often generate a cooler, breezier local environment that feels nice to run beside as do trails and parks that offer plenty of tree canopy to cover you.

  2. Keep your clothing light and bright - don’t wear dark, heavy workout clothes (ahem, no cotton) that will absorb the sun’s heat and your sweat. Opt for loose lightweight running clothes instead; loose clothes can allow cooling breezes through and bright colors will reflect the sun’s heat and wick away moisture (think materials like Lycra and polyester).  

  3.  Hydrate smarter - forgetting to consume fluids throughout the day and then chugging a glass of water before you head out on your run won’t do you much good, especially when you are sweating upwards of 0.8 and 1.4 liters each hour. Make sure to drink water throughout the day, and take a portable water source with you (like a Camelbak) if your run outside in the sun is going to last longer than 45 minutes or an hour.

  4. Slow down - your internal body temperature increases as you generate more heat with your movements during running and it simply isn’t as efficient out in 85-degree weather as it would be in 55-degree weather. If you are running in scorching temps, slow down when necessary to prevent symptoms of overheating like nausea, lightheadedness, and confusion.

  5. Wear sun protection - want to hear a shocking statistic? Close to 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. When running in the sun, make sure to safeguard your skin against harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunblock SPF 30 or higher in addition to protective clothing (mesh running hat, sunglasses, etc).

  6. Cool off before your run - lower your body temperature prior to your run by sipping on icy beverages, sitting in air conditioning, or wearing cold wraps. Research suggests that precooling in the hour before a run can enhance endurance performance in hotter climates.

  7. Update your running brace - if you wear an orthopedic aid to help stabilize critical joints like your knee or ankle while you run, you’ll want to make sure your summer miles are logged in a brace that won’t absorb all your sweat and become smelly. The best knee brace for running will be made of a lightweight breathable material like neoprene that is flexible but strong enough to adequately support your movements.

  8. Don’t shy away from cross-training - if you are training for a race like a 10K, half-marathon, or even an ultra, cross-training will play an important role in your weekly exercise routine (and it can provide a nice respite from the sun). Complement your weekly running miles with indoor yoga, swimming, or a cool indoor spin class.

  9. Freeze your water - few things taste worse than drinking hot water out of the bottle you brought with you on your run. Make your water breaks way more refreshing by freezing your water bottle, backpack, or belt before you head outside. It will melt as you log miles and then be a crisp cool treat once you stop for a sip.

  10. Run when it is cool out - keep an eye on the forecast with weather apps like DarkSky or Plan your runs accordingly so that you are heading out during the coolest parts of the day, like early morning or mid-morning. If you would rather run after work in the evening, consider taking your trek indoors so you’re not battling the heat with each stride.

  11. Use the wind to your advantage - if you can gauge wind direction (or use an app to look it up), you may be able to help yourself stay cooler on your run. Since your body only continues to heat up as you jog, coordinate your route so that you are running against the wind on the second half of your journey. A little added wind resistance won’t seem so bad when it’s the same breeze cooling you off.
Don’t let your running schedule lag behind because you think it’s too hot to get out during the summer. Be smart about knowing the outdoor temperature ahead of time, plan a thoughtful route, wear appropriate clothing, and stay hydrated!

This is a guest blog posting.

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