As the August sun blazes down here in Texas (and other regions of the northern hemisphere), now is an excellent time to review tips for remaining safe and comfortable during your runs. Many of the following suggestions may seem like common sense, but sometimes sense isn’t all that common. It never hurts to revisit the basics.
Try some of these tips for running in warm weather:
1. Start Out Hydrated and Stay That Way
This is the most critical point on this list. Many of us carry water bottles on our runs — but don’t forget to start out fully hydrated. During your run, take small sips every 10 minutes or so, even if you’re not thirsty. In fact, the sensation of being thirsty is a sign that dehydration has already started. Even losing 1% of your hydration can reduce your physical performance by 10%. Don’t forget to replenish electrolytes by adding them to your water or choosing your favorite sports drink.
2. Work Up to It
In the weeks and months before peak heat season, push your run a little harder to acclimate your body to the increased rigors. You’ll appreciate this extra store of stamina during your summer workouts.
3. Seek Out Some Shade
If your usual running route features lots of sun exposure (or even worse, heat-blasting asphalt and concrete), switch it up for a more shaded stretch of road.
4. Adjust Your Running Schedule
We all lead busy lives, but carving out a new schedule for morning or evening runs will help you avoid the worst of the day’s heat.
5. Mind Your Wardrobe
We live In a time of technological marvels, including moisture-wicking sportswear. As a bonus, these garments often offer SPF protection. Keep clothes loose and breathable, wear good socks, and avoid abrasions from ill-fitting running shoes. Many folks forget to add a hat to their running wardrobe — but not only will it protect your head and eyes from the sun, hats help keep your head cool by promoting perspiration.
6. Chill Out Before You Heat Up
Taking a lukewarm shower before you head out on a run lets you start with a lower core temperature. This is especially effective when running during cooler hours in the morning or evening.
7. SPF Is Your Friend
Excessive sun exposure is not only painful, it could lead to deadly cancer. Even if you do not get sunburnt, the sun’s UV rays can cause damage to skin cells. So block it out by choosing SPF-rated hats and clothing. Apply sunscreen (at least 20 SPF) to any exposed skin. Reapply as necessary during your outing.
9. Know the Signs of Heat Stroke
I could write an entire blog on the topic of heat stroke, but we’ll hit the high points in this list. The first signs of heat stroke include nausea, dizziness, headaches, disorientation, and increased fatigue. Many victims report that they stopped sweating in the moments leading up to heat stroke.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to stop exercising and move to a shady spot to rest and hydrate at the first sign of heat stroke. Don’t fight through it. You won’t win.
10. Take Your Time During Cooldown
Following a hot-weather run, it is best to let you’re your body temperature gradually return to normal. Avoid jumping into a cold shower (and resist the call of the swimming pool) until you’ve had a chance to cool down a bit. Take time instead to stretch and hydrate.
With a little preparation and sound decisions, we can all have an enjoyable summertime run!