Summer may not officially be here but the temperatures are certainly starting to heat up. The figid winter running days now seem like a distant past.
Some people prefer running in the warmer weather and you can certainly see many more people out on the popular running paths.
Running in the hot weather does present some challenges. Some people for whatever reason tolerate the heat better than others. But all feel the effects and need to be aware and take proper precautions. The combination of heat and humidity presents even more challenges since when it is humid your sweat which acts to cool your body does not evaporate as fast and your body temperature will increase..
Here are some simple things that runners can do to help beat the heat and stay safe running this summer.
Allow time for your body to adapt. That first run in hot weather will be tough. Your body needs time to adapt to the heat. Start slow, cut your distance and run comfortably.
Run early or late in the day. Try to get out for your run before the sun is high in the sky. The sun will heat up your body even more and the temperature will be higher during the middle of the day. Get up an hour earlier or go out for a late evening run when the sun is lower in the sky.
Wear light moisture wicking clothes. Light colored clothes will reflect the heat of the sun while dark colors will absorb the heat of the sun and make you warmer. A moisture wicking shirt will get rid of all that extra sweat and help keep you cooler.
Wear your sun block. You should wear sun block all year round but especially in the summer – even on cloudy days as the damaging rays of the sun will penetrate the clouds. Don’t forget to apply on your ears and lower lip which are especially exposed to the sun. Wearing a light hat also helps as do sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Run in the shade. The boardwalks are great venues to run and take in scenery but you are constantly exposed to the sun. Try to run on some shaded trails like at the Manasquan Reservoir. The shade will keep you cooler and allow you to run more comfortably.
Hydrate yourself but be careful. Make sure on those hot days to stop for water. Start drinking water before you are thirsty. It takes time for your body to absorb the water and once you get de – hydrated it could be too late to fully recover. For shorter runs of 3 to 5 miles water is generally all you need. When running longer it is important to replace the electrolytes in your body or you could develop a very serious condition known as Hyponatremia or “overhydrating”. Drink a sports drink or salt water during your longer run rather than just plain water.
Listen to your body. If you feel light headed, stop running and take a break in the shade.
Slow down. Run slower than your normal pace on those hot days. Excessive heat can also tire your muscles and cause you to cramp up. Your muscles will also be working harder as more blood in your body is sent to your skin and away from your muscles so they do not get all the oxygen they need to fuel the run.. It can increase the chances of an injury as well.
So try to stay cool this summer and keep running. It will be a busy running summer with lots of fun events and it’s also a time to get serious about training for fall longer distances like half marathons and full marathons. Get information on some training programs starting this summer.