Bloggers and seasoned runners Millie Minton and Kathleen Bush have teamed up to offer tips on how to run outdoors safely during the hot summer months.
Ahhhh, summer. The extended daylight hours beckon runners onto the open roads, but soaring heat and humidity can take their toll on your running mojo.
Here are 6 tips to beat the heat while running this summer.
1. Run Prepared
Summer running might mean you’ll require fewer articles of clothing, but don’t skimp on gearing up. Apply non-drip sunscreen to protect your skin before you head out. Grab a pair of sport sunglasses with nose grips to help with sun glare and to give you a better view of oncoming motorists.
When going on long trail runs on runs in less populated areas, always make sure to tell someone your route and when to expect you back, or run with a cell phone. Stash some cash in case you become overheated and need to stop for a drink or to use for cab fare home.
2. Run Early or Run Late
Experienced runners like to say that the best time to run is when your shadow is longer than you are. In other words, avoid running between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s intensity is at its greatest. If you suffer from respiratory problems, remember that air quality is usually better in the morning than it is later in the day. Plus, early morning runs mean fewer cars and less traffic noise.
If you must run when the sun is up, pick a shady course. Think tree-lined streets over winding country roads. And if you’re running at night, remember your reflective vest.
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
If you’re running in the heat for more than a couple miles, you will need hydration mid-run. Invest in a hydration pack (found at any running shop), or drive your route in advance and strategically hide partially frozen water bottles along the way (don’t forget to drive back to collect them when you’re done!).
You could also plan a one or two mile route around a focal point, such as your home or Midtown. Run laps of this same route, stopping for a drink each time you pass. Having extra water to pour on your head and neck is a huge psychological bonus, so don’t be afraid to run through a sprinkler when passing!
One of the worst things you can do to your body is dehydrate it. When you overheat, your recovery time will be much longer as your body will need time to heal.
4. Dress for Success
Your old cotton tshirt isn’t the best choice for running in the heat. Technical fibers will move moisture away from your skin, producing a cooling effect. Many of the newer fabrics also have the bonus of built-in UV protection. Don’t underestimate the importance of moisture-wicking socks, either. Keeping your feet cool and dry will prevent blisters.
5. Remember Your Electrolytes
On long runs in the heat, you need to remember your important friends: sodium and potassium. These and other electrolytes keep your digestive, nervous, cardiac, and muscular systems functioning properly. The more you sweat, the more electrolytes you’ll lose. If you’re running long, consider refueling with sports drinks such as Gatorade or Accelerade during the run, and post-run as well. Recent research, however, suggests that sports drinks, which are often high in sugar, might not be the best post-workout drink, so you might opt for milk, coconut water, or a piece of fruit to replenish electrolytes.
6. Know the Warning Signs
Don’t try to be a superhero. There is a clear line between proving mental toughness and putting your health in jeopardy, and unfortunately many runners allow themselves to cross it. You are not weak for rescheduling a run on a hot day or for stopping early; rather, you are smart.
Don’t expect your pace to be the same as you manage on brisk, mild days. Watch for symptoms of heat disease: intense heat build up, headache, nausea, clammy skim, muscle cramps, and feeling faint. If any of these symptoms strike, stop immediately and head for a drink in the shade.
Enjoy the summer weather and the myriad psychological and physical benefits of running outdoors. Stay safe, smart, and cool and you’ll reap the benefits of running all year long.
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