To run or not to run? If you are a runner, chances are that there is little that will stop you from hitting the road. Rain, blisters, a sore knee … summer heat. Running in the summer can be dangerous.
But luckily with some preparation and common-sense strategies, you can keep right on pounding the pavement all summer long. Here are some tips for running in the summer heat.
1. Hydrate – Your body regulates its own temperature in a few ways. For instance circulating oxygen through the blood and by sweating to cool off. In extremely high temperatures, your heart will beat faster than usual even with similar amounts of exertion. And you will sweat. A lot. Replace the water you will lose by regularly drinking a lot of water, even on days when you aren’t running. Replenish minerals and electrolytes through diet or by drinking an enriched sports drink with electrolytes, not energy drinks which are loaded with caffeine.
2. Run inside – if you have access to an indoor track, and it’s more than 85 degrees (and/or super humid), consider taking your workout indoors. Even a treadmill or stairs will provide a safe place to run in a pinch, or try something new like water jogging or Zumba for a fun, alternate form of aerobic exercise.
3. Go early or late – early morning is usually the coolest part of the day and a great time to run. Evening also beats the heat of the day, though blacktop can retain the sun’s heat and reflect it back at you for hours after the sun has passed on. If you do run during hours with low visibility, be sure to wear a reflecting belt or safety light.
4. Make a short course – set up a cooling station and run for a short period that loops back around to the same place where water, ice, and shade are waiting. You don’t have to rest between laps, but drink water and don’t be caught far away from relief.
5. Wear “cool” clothes – Protect your skin and maximize air circulation by wearing light-colored clothes that are loose, and made of breathable fabric. “Wick-away” fabric actually lets cool air in, but wicks away moisture, leaving your skin cooler and dryer than cotton or polyester. Cover your head with a hat (try to cover your ears) or a bandana soaked in ice water. Invest in exercise-friendly sunglasses with UV protection. And while it may feel good for men to run shirtless, think again. You are exposing yourself to harmful UV rays.
6. Sunblock – apply and reapply if you will be outdoors for an extended period of time. Sweat will dissolve even water-resistant sunblock after a while. And choose the SPF right for you, and higher is always better.
7. Pick shady places – if there is a place to run in the shade or through trees, stick to those paths. Shade makes a huge difference in your body temperature and comfort level.
8. Build up slowly – even the most experienced runners need to take it slowly when the temperatures get high. Remember that your body is working harder in hot weather to keep you from overheating. Go slow or cut your time and distance at first to see how your body will react.
9. Watch out for heat exhaustion – don’t let your goals get in the way of your health. Watch for signs of overheating and dehydration. Make sure to have your phone in case you need to call for help (always).
10. Leave Fido at home. Some people can’t imagine running without their dogs in tow. But if you’re hot, imagine what it feels like to be running in a fur coat! Plus the pavement can retain heat long after the sun goes down, making it hard on Fido’s paws. Keep your pet at home.
11. De-bugging. During the summer, everyone enjoys being outside, include mosquitos, ticks, and pesky gnats. Wearing repellant can help with mosquitos and gnats, but not with ticks. Consider natural repellants that contain lemongrass or eucalyptus. Check for ticks, especially on your ankles and in your “nooks and crannies.” If gnats are particularly annoying, wear eyewear.
For the best in comprehensive medical care in Sarasota and Manatee County for runners and everyone else, jog over to Intercoastal Medical Group. Learn more about our practice or find a provider at our location closest to you today. You can also request an appointment online now.