#running in the heat
It's July and it's supposed to be hot, but the heat has reached "dangerous" levels in parts of the eastern U.S. this week, but what does that mean for runners? Is it too hot to go for a run? Running in the Summer can be tough, but it’s not impossible. Below are some tips and gear that will help you stay cool during your summer runs, even when it’s sweltering outside!
So...How Does Our Body React to Heat?
Physical activity at temperatures above 86°F will noticeably place a strain on your body and cardiovascular system. Runners typically will feel a rise in temperature by as much as 10°C, so when it is 86°F , for a runner, it's 104°F. The heat obviously makes your body temperature rise, resulting in higher sweat production, increased heart rate and your blood vessels dilate. So...how can you run safely?
First. Start Slow
Give your body time to adjust to the higher temperatures. Our bodies will need a good 10–14 days to acclimatize to the temperatures outside. Unless you're in boot camp, avoid intense training sessions during the first few really hot days. Start off slowly, gradually increasing the length and intensity of your training. In that time, your body will learn to decrease your heart rate, decrease your core body temperature, and increase your sweat rate. Listen to your body and be flexible with your running schedule. Allow yourself the chance to adapt your speed and distance to the conditions, and give yourself a realistic time frame that you can manage and run according to how you feel.
How Heat Affects Your Heart
In summer, your heart rate is elevated, regardless of whether you are running or not. When running with a heart rate monitor, remember that higher temperatures also boost your heart rate even if you run at your usual pace. Therefore, it won’t take as long to hit those higher heart rates and is a good idea to take it a bit slower.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Have you ever been running, it’s hot, you were sweating and then all of a sudden you have goose bumps? When jogging in the heat, your body tries to lower your core body temperature by sweating more. The most important thing is to start off well-hydrated. You'll want to make sure you drink plenty of water before bed, when you wake up in the morning, before you run, and especially after you run. Dehydration can cause fatigue, nausea, injury, and a number of other issues. Drink regularly throughout the day. If you’re going to be working out for more than an hour, make sure to have a water bottle with you and take a sip from time to time. I always run with my #fuelbelt to keep hydrated and usually add some electrolytes. https://fuelbelt.implus.com/products/hydrationbelts/fuelbelt-ultralight-belt-running-belt. It’s not the most glamorous of looks, but I’d rather have that than mid run and becoming dangerously dehydrated. #truestory A few years ago, I was on a 7 mile run and it was much warmer than I thought. I was in the process of training for a half marathon and didn't take any water. The route was mostly in the sun with little shade and no places with water fountains (obviously pre-COVID) or restaurants. I was incredibly hot and thirsty with over 3 miles to go. I ran over a bridge and saw a creek. Yup...you know what happened next, I mean whats the harm? The water looked clear and I was desperate. Needless to say, I ran right over to that creek, cupped my hands and drank about 12 handfuls of water. It tasted AMAZING. THE ABSOLUTE BEST WATER EVER. Good news was I made it home from that run, the bad news was I became awfully sick a few days later. From that point on, I always carried fluids with me. So, stay hydrated, don't drink from creeks and streams and of course... be safe!
Eating the Right Foods
Think that all your hydration comes from drinking? Think again. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from the foods we eat. But, not all foods contribute to your hydration status. Some, those high in protein, fiber, and salt, for example end up doing the opposite; they deplete your fluid reserves. Hydrating foods such as bananas, celery, cucumbers, radishes, strawberries, watermelon, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, spinach are excellent foods. Carbs are a primary source of energy and help not only provide endurance during a run but afterwards as well. Dried fruit, yogurt, brown rice, and whole grains are healthy carb choices that should be included in your diet.
Be generous with the sunblock application.
One of the things that I used to neglect when I was younger was applying sunblock. Running outside for an hour or more several times a week during the Summer exposes your skin and makes you vulnerable to sun burn. Don’t take your chances and avoid the burn by applying sunblock before each run.
Dress for the weather.
All black isn’t the best choice of apparel on a scorching hot Summer day. Wear light-colored, breathable clothes that don’t absorb all of the sun’s rays. It will keep you much cooler during your run. A running visor or hat can also help with keeping the sun and sweat out of your eyes. If you’re wearing a hat, make sure it’s made with breathable fabric. Wearing a regular baseball cap will keep the heat in and causing you to overheat faster.
Run in the early morning or late in the evening.
If you aren’t a morning person, then it’s about time you change things up. Running in the early morning not only saves you time during your day (and night), it’s also a much more ideal time to run when the temperatures are much cooler. If you hit snooze one too many times, wait it out until the sun starts to go down at the end of the day, so that the temperatures aren’t as brutal. Of course…try to time it carefully so that you also get back before it’s fully dark outside.
Invest in some running sunglasses.
Running sunglasses can really come in handy if you are not in an area with a ton of shade. Keep your eyes protected and out of harm’s way.
Stick to your schedule.
It’s understandable that we go on weekend getaways or take our highly anticipated vacations, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to take a break from running as well. Some of my favorite runs have been in new cities or vacation spots. It’s a wonderful way to get to know the area. I use, “Great Runs,” website https://greatruns.com ¨to plan my runs before traveling or I wing it. Some advice on “winging it,” keep a close eye on where you’re at because I have gotten lost more than once and one of my runs was supposed to be 3 miles and ended up being 10. Try to stick to your normal routine and keep track of your miles even while on vacation.
Running in the Summer time in the heat can be tough, but it’s not impossible. Embrace the fact that it's a sauna out there but look on the bright side, running super early or later at night, you get to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets.