Personally, I love running in the winter… I feel like the cold weather allows me to run at a high effort while not suffering from too much heat. However, summer has inevitably arrived and with it comes extreme heat and humidity.
#1 – RUN EARLY IN THE MORNING / LATE IN THE EVENING
This option won’t be for everyone, but it is the best way to avoid the issue. Running while the sun is still rising/setting is the best way to avoid the heat. During these hours you may even feel a cool breeze! Don’t know what time the sun rises or sets? Most weather-predicting websites and apps can give you this information but the website I use the most (and the one I’ve found to be the most accurate) is AccuWeather.
#2 – WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES
Wearing loose clothes will help sweat evaporate quicker, especially if you’re wearing a moisture-wicking running material (usually made from 100% polyester). The next step is to make sure you’re wearing light colors as they reflect sunlight, instead of storing it like dark colors do. Before you leave your house, make sure you also put a cap/baseball hat on your head as that will provide shade as well as protect your eyes from the harsh UV rays. If possible, grab a good pair of running glasses with a good UV filter (RIVBOS Polarized is a great, reliable option).
#3 – FREEZE YOUR WATER
Our bodies sweat in order to cool down. It’s an efficient mechanism that allows you to stay cool however, in high temperatures our bodies tend to sweat a lot more than usual, causing you to lose high amounts of fluids and minerals. The best you can do to prevent this from becoming a problem is to take frequent sips of water or an electrolyte drink. I suggest leaving your bottle in the freezer 1-2 hours before your run so that it’s nice and fresh when you’re out there facing the heat.
#4 – ADJUST YOUR PACE
Running in the heat will require more effort, and thus more energy, so it’s normal to feel like you’re running slower than usual. If it’s really hot, then you will feel slower and you probably won’t be able to run as far as you’re used to… and that’s ok. If you can’t run early in the morning or late at night then you will need to learn to adapt and reduce your total effort. Which brings us to tip number five…
#5 – LEAVE YOUR EGO AT HOME
Trust me (and many other runners who’ve made this mistake) – leave your ego at home during the summer. Don’t try to face the blistering midday heat without any water/hat/glasses/sunscreen. If you start feeling light headed, intense muscle cramps, dizziness or thirst, stop running and take a break in the shade! Get some water if you can walk back home (better yet, get a lift).
BONUS TIP - RUN INDOORS / AT A GYM
Running indoors will allow you to keep your aerobic conditioning. Most gyms will have air condition blowing our cool air and most treadmills will also have a built-in fan to keep you cool while running. This is a great way to keep fit and improve your aerobic capacity during the summer.
Running in the heat has a high metabolic cost and so it will naturally take longer to recover from normal runs. Be sure to adapt your training routine to either run less miles or run at a slower pace than usual… it’s better to run less/slower for a couple of months than to go all out in the heat, get injured and have to rest for weeks before being able to participate in a race again!
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