Well, it’s FINALLY summer here, in New Jersey. It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s sticky…and yeah, now it’s a bit smokey on some days. Running in the hot, humid conditions of summer, while a benefit to your overall fitness, can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. It requires extra precautions to ensure your safety and well-being. Here are some ways to beat the heat on your next steamy run:
5 Tips for Summer Running
1. Plan your time and location accordingly: Run during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, to avoid the peak heat hours. Choose shaded paths or routes that provide relief from direct sunlight. Running near bodies of water or in parks with trees can also help reduce the ambient temperature and provide a cooler environment. Bonus points for sunrise/sunset pics!
2. Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking clothing that allows for proper ventilation and sweat evaporation. Opt for light-colored clothing that reflects heat instead of absorbing it. Throw your ego and vanity out the window and opt for an outfit that is functional and practical for your purpose. Wear the damn shorts.
3. Protect Yourself from the Sun: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to all exposed areas of your skin before heading out. Wear a visor and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight. Some experts recommend skipping hats in the summer because they inhibit your body’s ability to release heat from your head. If you do choose to wear a hat, make sure it’s a light, breathable material.
4. Stay Hydrated: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. PREHYDRATE! Consume plenty of water and electrolytes before, during, and after your run to maintain proper hydration. Add electrolytes to help you maintain fluid balance and absorb nutrients for healthy organ function. Consider carrying a handheld bottle, wearing a hydration vest, or plan your routes around water fountains you know are in working order.
5. Listen to Your Body: Slow down and be mindful of your body’s response to the heat and humidity. Accept that you may have to modify your workout to accommodate a slower pace or shorter distance and focus on maintaining a comfortable effort level instead. Give your body time to adapt to hot and humid conditions by gradually increasing your training duration and intensity. Start with shorter runs and slowly build up as your body adjusts to the environmental conditions. Pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, such as intense headache, dizziness or nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop running, find shade, and rehydrate immediately. Always wear some form of ID with emergency contact info on you and ask for help if you need it.
Start cool! This is my favorite tip for running in the heat. Go out with your hair wet and keep a hat/visor/bandana, etc. in the fridge or freezer for a few hours before putting it on. These things have a cooling effect on the body, giving you a leg up on mother nature before you even step out the door. And it’s okay to (gasp!) skip the long warm-up- just start your run slowly to prevent your heart rate and body temp from spiking too early.
By following these tips, you can stay comfortable while running in the heat. Your safety should always be a priority when running in hot and humid weather. If conditions become too extreme, change your expectations or your workout. When in doubt, don’t go out. Worst case scenario, hop on the dreaded treadmill or enjoy a rest day.
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