Summer has been hanging around for a little while now, but in most places it’s just starting to really heat up. In coastal areas like San Luis Obispo, summer fog keeps runners cool when they train, but in other places runners have to learn how to cope with the heat. Running in heat takes a certain amount of toughness, but much of the struggle can be alleviated just by knowing what to do. So here are 5 tips for staying cool when the temps get hot.
1. Take It Down a Notch
This might seem obvious, but it can be a real mental effort to slow your pace before you get tired. It’ll take a few weeks for your body to acclimate to higher temperatures. During this time, reduce the length and intensity of your workouts. If you start out slow and still feel good at halfway, go ahead and pick up the pace.
2. Get Up Early, Stay Up Late
The coolest time of the day is just before dawn. Use this as an excuse to drag yourself out of bed early and get your run in before the rest of your day takes over. You’ll avoid the heat and you’ll feel better about your whole day. If you have to run in the evening, be sure to dress in bright colors for safety and be aware that if you run too late, you might have a tough time falling asleep for a little while.
3. Wear the Right Clothing
As a rule, it’s usually best to wear as little as possible. Shirts and shorts that are a light color are best, and vented gear helps improve airflow while you run. To prevent sunburn, try arm and/or calf sleeves. Some of these sleeves are designed for summer use and actually keep your extremities cooler than they would be without them. And of course, don’t forget a hat and sunscreen.
4. Hydrate Early and Often
Drinking early is critical to preventing dehydration and heat-related illness. Once you’re behind on hydration, it’s nearly impossible to catch up. If you’re training regularly, be sure to stay hydrated all day long. But don’t drink only water. As with everything, you need a balance. Too much water can flush your system, causing just as much of a problem as being dehydrated. Drink a low-sugar electrolyte replacement such as Fluid Performance to keep electrolytes in your system while staying hydrated. As a general rule, you should be drinking about eight 8-ounce glasses of hydrating liquid per day under normal conditions. When it’s hot and you’re out exercising, you can expect to double that. Most importantly though, listen to your body and be prepared for anything. Finally, go easy on the alcohol in the days leading up to a hot run. As you may know, alcohol has a dehydrating effect that can be difficult to recover from.
5. Run in Nature
Concrete, asphalt and buildings all retain heat exceptionally well. If you want to run in a cooler environment, seek shade, grass and open areas. Running alongside a lake or river has the added benefit of being able to jump in before, during or after your run (few things are better than a hot run followed by a dip in a cold body of water). If you can’t escape the city, head to the park where grass and trees provide shade and space away from concrete.
Source: Runner’s World