Summer running: 7 ways to run through the heat

7 ways to run through the heat

For most of us, summer is a great time to be active. Yet vigorous exercise in the summer heat equates to lots of sweat, an irritable mood and sometimes-dangerous health issues. If you’re training for a fall run during the summer months, it means having to brave those triple-digit heat indices, but you can take some extra precautions to make the most of your run.

Here are some ways you can stay cool while running in hot weather.

Get out the door early (or late). 
Take advantage of the extra daylight and run in the early morning or evening, avoiding peak sun hours. Dan Delph, marathon trainer and coordinator of sports event marketing for Norton Healthcare, recommends looking for a shady trail instead of running in direct sunlight.

Stay updated. 
Keep updated on heat advisories and air quality alerts. Rearrange your training schedule if the day is unusually hot or humid. Check the weather early in the week and adjust your runs accordingly.

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Block the sun. 
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to deflect the sun’s rays and allow your body to cool. A hat or visor can block the sun from directly hitting your face. In addition, wear UV-rated sunglasses to protect your eyes, and always use water- and sweat-proof sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

Stay hydrated. 
Drink 8 to 10 ounces of water 15 minutes before your run and then every 15 minutes during your run. A hydration pack or fuel belt allows you to carry water on the go. If possible, plan your route around water fountains or stores where you can refill your water mid-run.

“You’re also losing electrolytes when you sweat, so in addition to replenishing water, replenish electrolytes with a sports drink,” Delph said.

Walk to run.
Add in walking breaks to keep your core temperature in check, allowing you to run with better quality and reduce the chance of developing heat stress. When the weather cools, you can increase the run-to-walk ratio until you are running continuously.

The heat can actually help. 
When done properly, training in the heat actually strengthens your cardiovascular system. Delph, a longtime runner and triathlete, adds running in the fall after a steamy summer may provide faster paces with less effort.

Be aware.
Listen to your body and know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Your body cools itself by sweating, but as the heat and humidity increase, your core temperature rises faster than your body can cool. That’s when you’re at risk for heat-related illness. Signs of heat cramps are muscle spasms and pain. Signs of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, rapid breathing, weak pulse, headache and nausea. Signs of heat stroke are rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and vomiting.

If you just can’t handle the heat, you can always run indoors on a treadmill or fitness center track. Chances are if you ease yourself into the heat, though, your body will adjust and you’ll be well-prepared for that upcoming fall race.


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