Summer Running: Tips for Training in the Heat
By Natalie Robinson
The beautiful days of summer have arrived and the days are (finally!) becoming warmer and longer. Despite the heat, our summer runs and workouts must continue. I personally have a love-hate relationship with summer. While I enjoy the activities that come with hotter days—enjoying the pool, wearing sundresses, dewy glasses of summer beverages—the heat and humidity are often uncomfortable from the moment you step out the door. From sweating your hair out, to the endless piles of laundry created, running during summer can be a chore.
Here are some tips to keep in mind during your summer runs and workouts to ensure you slide into the new season with continued success:
Timing Beats the Heat
Running in the morning can pay off by helping you avoid climbing temperatures and it usually makes for a more peaceful run. The temperatures are much more bearable, the sidewalks are fairly clear of pedestrians and the like and the humidity hasn’t quite hit its peak. Evenings are also a good time, as the sun will be setting and the thermometer is (usually) on the decline.
Find Your Go-to Summer ‘Do
Why not have fun with your hair the way you do with your clothes for summer? A protective style will allow you to stylishly run without having to spend a ton of time on your hair after each workout. Try out some braids, cornrows or those faux locks you may have been admiring from afar. If that’s not your style, try rocking a bun, a curly pineapple, or a ponytail with a sweatband to keep those tresses out of your face as much as possible.
Take Caution With the Humidity
Humid climates present a unique twist to summer running. When heat, humidity, and running intersect, your body is propelled into high gear. In the article “How to Properly Hydrate for Summer Running,” Active.com explains, “A warm temperature is far more dangerous in a humid climate than in a dry one. Humidity slows the evaporation process of sweat from the skin, making it difficult for the body to cool itself.” Find the sweet spot by adjusting your pace to where your body isn’t too stressed in the humid conditions.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Staying hydrated before, during and after a run is another key thing to remember for summer running performance. During summer, we tend to lose more water through increased sweating and dehydration can occur. In Fast Food: Everything You Need to Know About Optimum Energy on the Run, the editors of Runner’s World share why dehydration is so bad for the body: “Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body's ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making it difficult for your body to meet aerobic demands.”
Your body is made up of about 60 percent water, so it is recommended that women consume about 2.7 liters (or 11.5 cups) of water each day.* Regularly consuming water all the time (and not just before or after a run) will ensure your hydrations levels are optimal for running all the time. Also, as you drink water and sweat through your workouts, make sure you are replenishing yourself with electrolytes, as they become diluted through increased water intake. Everyone needs electrolytes to function normally, but they are especially important during physical activity, as Active.com again points out, to keep “digestive, nervous, muscular and cardiac systems balanced and firing on all cylinders.”
Change Clothes and Shoes Often
Damp, sweaty clothes, shoes and feet facilitate a perfect breeding ground for bacteria growth. Peel those wet clothes off as soon as possible (no more than 30 minutes after your workout) and allow them to fully dry before you throw them in with your other dirty laundry. Letting them fester too long will create a funk you won’t easily be rid of, plus all sorts of other gross things. Try to rotate your running shoes frequently as well and allow them to fully dry before wearing them again.
Loose and Light Running Gear
Ditch dark colors for summer runs. Keep your gear loose and light. This will keep you cooler and more comfortable in the sun. Avoid regular cotton garments and go for lighter, moisture-wicking fabrics and colors that will aid in reflecting sunlight, drying sweat quickly and keeping you breezy as you get in those miles.
Protect the Melanin
Running and working out outdoors can wear on your skin. Harmful UVA and UVB rays can be strong in the morning, evening, and even on a cloudy day, when it may not seem to be an issue. From sheer application to light misting sprays, the options are plentiful. Make applying sunscreen part of your regular routine to protect that beautiful melanin from stressors that can cause sunburn, hyperpigmentation, aging and even the possibility of cancer.
Now that you have all these summer running tips, your summer miles await!
*Mayo Clinic Staff. “Water: How much should you drink every day?” Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
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