Summer is a great time to run to run in Washington DC. There are numerous trails, parks, and scenic views to be had. However the heat and humidity can play havoc on your running therefore it is important to be prepared when you set out for a run.
The warmer the weather, the more challenging it becomes for your body to cool itself. Your heart rate is higher and breathing is more rapid. The body has to work double time in the heat.
It takes about two weeks for your body to adapt to the heat and cool itself more efficiently. During this time be sure to slow your pace and reduce your intensity. Doing so will allow you to more efficiently acclimate to the climate. Your body will gradually become better at cooling itself in the warmer weather allowing you to continue to run at your normal pace.
When the temperatures soar running at cooler times of the day such as in the morning or in the evening will help you to avoid dangerous temperatures. If you run in the morning, you will avoid the heat, but may encounter a higher humidity. The air quality is also better in the morning, since ozone levels increase soon after dawn, peak at midday, and then again in the early evening. Times to avoid running are noon until 3pm.
There are times in DC when we experience a heat alert of poor air quality day. When these occur you should take your workout indoors. It takes your body longer to recover from these workouts and you run the risk of injury or heat stroke.
Last, it is important to hydrate well when the heat levels rise. For workouts shorter than 45 minutes, water works just fine. For longer runs, research suggests consuming about a cup of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to fuel your muscles and aid in maintaining electrolyte levels.
Run safe and smart and enjoy what DC has to offer.