Summer is practically here and I love it! Even though I have summers off, I still get up at the crack of dawn to run. Habit I suppose.
As temperatures are heating up, there are some precautions you should take while exercising in the heat.
1. Run early. Try to get up and run earlier in the day (preferably before 10 am). I get up and run between 5-7 am, depending on the distance. I choose this time because it is the coolest part of the day (besides nighttime) and the sun is not directly above me. Running in the heat can slow you down, dehydrate you, and make your run just miserable. I also feel more accomplished if I get up early. If you’re a night person and want to run in the evening please be careful. It can be dangerous for many reasons. I suggest having several running buddies and a cell phone- or just run on a treadmill.
2. Hydrate. I plan all of my runs around drinking fountains. I also make sure to drink water before I run, as well as after my run. I personally need water if I am running 5+ miles. If I am running more than that I make sure my route has a drinking fountain, or I can quickly stop home at get a drink. My only issue with stopping home is that it takes longer and you might have the urge to not leave again. A key sign for me to know if I am starting to get dehydrated are my hands. It is an odd thing, but my thumbs go inwards towards my palms when I need water. Some people experience cramping in their legs due to lack of water. You do not need sports drinks unless you are running 90+ minutes or becoming severely dehydrated. I never drink sports drinks during a run because I don’t like the sugar. However, I do love Nuun and have started using that as my electrolyte replenisher. I swear I’ve been using it for years, and not just because Kara Goucher is the new spokesperson! 😉
3. Avoid sun. Whenever possible try to run in the shade. It not only helps protect your skin, but it truly makes a difference in temperature. Not a lot, but anything helps. I will switch sides of the road/sidewalk simply to run in the shade. When creating a route, try to create a route that is lined with trees that will give you shade. Running in direct sunlight in the middle of the day can quickly dehydrate you.
4. Dress appropriately. I cannot stress this enough. COTTON IS BAD! Now I don’t mean regular cotton clothing is bad, just exercise clothes. Cotton does not wick away sweat and traps in your heat. It is not pleasant running in a super soaked cotton shirt. When purchasing running clothes for summer, make sure it is a dry wicking material, which allows sweat to evaporate quickly. I wear a lot of Under Armour “Heat Gear” because it is made specifically for hot weather, is lightweight, and wicks away sweat. I have never felt comfortable to run in just a sports bra, but some do. Therefore I just run in a tank top. As for shorts- most “running” shorts will be fine. I posted a few days ago about running shorts with built in underwear- those are ideal. Another item to purchase for running is a hat. Make sure the hat is intended for running, or exercise in general. I have a couple running hats and they are lightweight, dry wicking material. They also have ventilation holes around the hat and longer bills to protect my face. I have one from Nike and one from Brooks, and they can be life savers. They also help to stop sweat from running into your eyes (which really stings!). Socks are also a big deal for summer running. Do not wear cotton socks- they will make your feet hot and uncomfortable. Invent in some running socks that are made from better material and are “breathable”. I wear running socks from Saucony and Injinji and absolutely love them.
5. Choose the right colors. This sounds odd, but wear the right colors will help with heat. Black and darker colors absorb more sun rays, which heat you up. White and lighter colors reflect sun rays, helping to keep you cooler. During the summer I tend to wear my white running hat much more often, along with lighter colored clothes.
6. Sunscreen. I cannot stress this enough! I have very pale skin, so if I don’t apply sunscreen I get burned quite easily. By the end of the summer I have a permanent watch tan line on my wrist, as well as a nice short line. I spend 1-3 hours running each day, and that is definitely enough time to get burnt. Please make sure to put on sun screen!
7. Take it slow. Running in the heat can slow you down by up to 30 seconds per mile. Don’t become frustrated and try to push yourself more as you could become injured or more dehydrated. Be patient while running in the heat, and just expect that you will run slower. Most summer races are held at 6 am for this reason, as well as safety reasons. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon I run always starts at 6 am because the city heats up quickly in July. The great thing about races are the water stations and medical services on hand. When you run by yourself you do not have these amenities so you need to take that into account.
8. Humidity. There no shortage of humidity here in SE Iowa. You may be lucky and have have little to no humidity where you are, and for that I am jealous. Humidity can affect evaporation rate- meaning your sweating “dry wick” clothes may not wick away as much due to the already high amounts of moister in the air.
9. Take a break. If you feel overheated please stop to rest. I am a stubborn runner and hate stopping, but sometimes it is necessary for your safety.
10. Run with a buddy. Running with someone is beneficial for many reasons. It can also be a safety feature. Hopefully nothing will ever happen to you while running, but if it did- a buddy is there to help. Often times if it is crazy hot out Morgan will ride his bike next to me and carry water for me. It makes me feel safer, I stay hydrated, and makes my run more fun.
11. Run through sprinklers! I get so excited when people have their sprinklers on during a hot run. At some point you have to stop worrying about what people think about you while you’re running. I don’t care if I look like a weirdo because I run through sprinklers; it cools me down! One of my favorite parts of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half is around mile 11. They have large tubs of ice water with sponges in them. As you run past them a volunteer hands you a sponge soaked with water. Now you can either have a sponge fight (which is fun) or drench yourself in water (which is probably smarter). I’ll actually take ice cubes out of the bins and put them in my sports bra. What? That’s not weird or anything.
Please follow these tips to keep you safe while running this summer!