When Spring comes, it’s a relief from the bitter cold and dark hours that dissuade you from running. Now the weather often lands at the perfect temperature for long outdoor runs. Until the all to brief spring weather is overtaken by summer. Once the temperatures climb, running becomes more difficult and can sometimes be dangerous. But you don’t have to break your running habit when the dog days of summer arrive. Utilize some of these tips so you can stay cool while you get your run in.
How to Stay Cool on Hot Summer Runs
1. Run in the Morning/Evening
This may be a no brainer–but getting up early and running before the sun heats the day up is one of the easiest things to do to defeat hot summer weather. If you’re like me and not a morning person, I push back dinner and run in the evening when the temperatures start to drop again. Use a weather app to track estimated hourly temperatures and plan to take your run at the coolest point of the day.
When it’s hot out, you’re going to sweat more than on a regular run. You need to compensate for this by hydrating regularly. That includes before, during, and after your run. Once your run is done, opt for a sports drink with electrolytes to replenish and hydrate more efficiently than water alone.
If your running trail doesn’t include water fountains, bring your own water with a handheld water bottle or a water belt.
3. Wear Cool Gear
What you wear will affect how hot you feel while you run. For hot summer days, opt for light-colored, loose sports gear. The lighter colors will reflect the sun’s heat. When the fabric is loose, it’s easier for sweat to evaporate, which cools you down better than tight, soaked clothes.
Another item you might not consider wearing is a visor. Unlike a hat, the open top of a visor will allow heat to escape from the top of your head while blocking the sun from your face. This not only protects you from UV rays but helps keep your face cool as well.
4. Wear Sunscreen
Since we’re talking about UV rays, don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen before you go out. This not only protects you from sunburn, wrinkles, and skin cancer, but sunscreen lotion helps your skin and body feel cooler.
Opt for a waterproof, sports formula that will stand up to up to two hours of sweating. Make sure to reapply if you towel off.
5. Don’t Push It
If running in hot weather is unavoidable, don’t push yourself too hard. This is especially important on those days with sudden heat spikes. Slow down your pace and you can still get some exercise without overworking and overheating your body.
6. Run in the Shade
It’s often 10 degrees cooler in the shade and you can use that to your advantage by finding a running trail in the shade. Look for hiking trails and other running routes in shady wooded areas. If that’s not an option, running near a large body of water like a lake or the ocean will give you cooler temperatures and often a nice breeze.
7. Lower Your Body Temperature
If you start your run with a lower body temperature it will take your body longer to heat up. You can do this by using a technique called “pre-cooling.” An easy way to do this is to consume something very cold like a slushy or jump into a pool or a cold shower. You can also try wearing an ice vest to keep your temperature down throughout the run.
Once you’re ready to go, make sure you do your warm-up and your cool-down outside. This will help you avoid any temperature shock before or after your run.
8. Cool Your Neck
Since blood flows close to the surface of the skin on your neck, you can easily lower your core body temperature by strategically cooling your head and neck. A damp handkerchief around the neck is an easy, low-cost solution. You can also use ice cubes or some other freezable pack. Wear it on your neck while you run and you’ll feel much cooler.
9. Watch out for Humidity
While you’re monitoring the climbing temperatures, make sure you also pay attention to the forecasted humidity. When it’s very humid out, the air feels hotter. It also makes you feel hotter since sweat can’t evaporate from your skin and cool your body properly. If temperature and humidity readings are high, you’re going to feel miserable. Try to schedule your run when both are low.
10. Choose a Different Exercise
If the temperatures are really high with heat index warnings, just accept that it’s in your best interest not to run that day. Go for a swim in the pool instead or head to the gym to run on a treadmill in the AC. Choosing a different activity for sweltering days is the best choice for your health and well being.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated with a water belt or a hand held water bottle. Once you achieve your running goals, get yourself a running gift.
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