6 Tips for Staying Cool During Summer Runs
Summer is officially here! The days are longer, the sun is out, and the temperatures are rising. The combination of the rising heat and humidity can even make the shortest of runs feel like a like a hike through the Sahara.
Sure, running in the summer months is uncomfortable, but training in the heat and humidity is actually worth the trouble. Running in hot weather teaches your body to sweat more — cooling you down and increasing your blood-plasma volume — benefiting cardiovascular fitness while lowering your core body temperature. This leads to better results in any weather condition.
So, how do you make sure to stay active and fit without overdoing it in the heat? Here are 6 tips to make your summer runs more enjoyable, fun, and safe.
EARLY MORNING RUNS
The start of the morning is not only serene and calm, but it’s typically the coolest time of day. Starting your morning with a run not only boosts your energy levels but increases mental attentiveness and your mood. Making it the perfect way to start the day. If you can’t run in the a.m., then run in the evening. Just make sure if you're running around dusk to wear bright, reflective clothing.
As the mercury soars, it is very important to stay properly hydrated. You need drink fluids (mostly water) before, during and after runs. Basically, you never want to feel thirsty. As a rule of thumb, 8 oz of fluids per hour is typically recommended. However, during hotter weather or during longer runs you may need to drink more.
Electrolyte replenishment is important during the summer too. While running, you lose sodium and potassium (key electrolytes) through your sweat. Drinking an electrolyte sports drink (such as Gatorade Organic, Skratch Labs, and Nuun) after a long, hot run will help replenish those lost electrolytes while hydrating you too.
Keep clothing LIGHT & LOOSE
When running in the heat, you'll want to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. Light colors reflect the sun’s rays while dark colors absorb them, making you hotter. Cotton is a bad choice since once it gets wet, it stays wet, which is uncomfortable in warmer weather and causes chafing. Instead, wear moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics.
RUN NEAR WATER
Stay cool during by running near a scenic body of water. Running near rivers, lakes, and oceans can create slightly cooler breezier conditions. Plus, many running trails near rivers and lakes are shaded. An added bonus is that you can take a quick, cooling dip post-run!
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Embrace the humidity. Accept it for what it is — HOT! Heat naturally slows your pace and raises your heart rate. Your body works harder in warmer weather to regulate your core temperature — meaning you will run slower! Essentially, for every degree over 65º plan to run two seconds slower per mile. If you run an 8-minute mile when it’s 65º out expect to run an 8:50 mile when it’s 90º. (90º degrees – 65 degrees = 25, 25 x 2 seconds = 50 seconds; 8:50 + 0:50 = 8:50). That’s a lot of math so I just suggest running on perceived effort. Expect slower race and training paces as the temperature spikes. Want to simplify it — use this chart from below Runner’s World.
TAKE IT INSIDE
There is nothing wrong with saying it’s just too damn hot to run outside! Especially, if you cannot run in the early morning or late evening. This is even truer for harder workouts such as intervals, speed work, or tempo runs. Yes, in extreme heat your treadmill can actually be your friend. Embrace it. Use it. You won’t regret it.