Remote learning is over, Zoom calls have (hopefully) slowed down, schedules have opened up, and the natural world is buzzing with life. Summer is here! Running during the summer months is an important part of a physically active routine. While it might seem counterintuitive to run when it’s hot outside, the mix of sunshine, fresh air and extra daylight can actually make it one of the best times to tie those laces and get outside. Check out the tips below to help you stay safe while getting the most out of your summer runs.
When it’s hot outside, your body needs time to adjust to hot and humid weather. That means adjusting your pace, at least at first. Take advantage of longer daylight hours and run when it’s cooler, which is typical in the early morning before the sun gets above the horizon or in the early evening. As your body gets used to the weather, up the intensity gradually until you’re back to your original pace.
Summer weather can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to check your local forecast before heading out on a run. Look at your local air quality index too, especially if you have upper respiratory problems like asthma and allergies. Don’t forget to take a look at your local heat index. It tells you what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with air temperature. So while it might be 90 degrees outside, the humidity can make it feel like it’s closer to 100 degrees. Yikes!
Depletion of the ozone layer has increased our risk of sun damage from harmful UV rays. Sunscreen blocks those rays, which not only reduces your chances of getting sunburned, but also of getting skin cancer. Look for a sweatproof, waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for the best protection. Make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses with UV protection too. You can even try mixing up your route on blazing hot days and run somewhere that offers shade like a park or woods.
Keeping your body well hydrated is key to helping your heart pump blood efficiently, which in turn, helps your muscles work efficiently. It’s a good idea to start drinking water well before you go out to run too. If you plan on running for more than an hour, wear a running belt or backpack with extra water and sports drink or gel to keep your sodium levels up. When it’s hot and you sweat a lot, your body starts losing electrolytes (essential minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium) that your body needs to keep working.
Alcohol can make you dehydrated by removing water and important nutrients from your body, so plan get-togethers accordingly. If you have a big run planned on Saturday morning, but are headed to a social distancing cookout on Friday night, skipping happy hour is probably best.
Wearing light-colored tops and shorts made of performance fabrics can help keep you cool and dry. Look for pieces made of Lycra, nylon, polyester and others that wick away sweat, are breathable, and have stretch to move with you.
In severe heat, be sure to run with a friend. Consider it another layer of safety for you and the other person. It can be hard to see the warning signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke in yourself, but a friend can keep an eye on your while you return the favor. It’s a win-win!
Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have as much water as it needs. It’s normal to lose water from your body every day by breathing, sweating and using the bathroom. You replace them by eating and drinking. If you lose too much water or don’t drink and eat enough, however, you can get dehydrated. Sometimes, this happens due to fever, diarrhea or vomiting. Other times, it can happen when you exercise heavily, are outside in very hot weather for long periods of time, and stop drinking water. You can have mild, moderate, or severe dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, you may feel faint, experience muscle cramps, have heart palpitations, or feel lightheaded. Treating it means getting the body’s water levels back to normal. In cases of severe dehydration, however, you will need intravenous fluids to help your body rehydrate.
Don’t head out for a run without letting your family or friends know your route and how long you think you’ll be gone. If you can, take your smartphone along. That way, if anything should happen, you’ll be able to call for help, or at the very least, people will know where to look for you.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to meet a certain pace goal or conquer a new route when it’s crazy hot outside. Instead, check out a new playlist, listen to a new podcast, or just enjoy being alone with your thoughts.
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