This weekend I got my first run of the season in temps higher than 65. We started at 9am and it was already about 80 outside. It was quite the steamy run!
I get a lot of questions about what I do in the summertime for running. New England’s summers are known to be brutally hot and unbearably humid. Not everyone has a tolerance for this, and I know I am one of the exceptions: I actually enjoy running in the heat. I will take an 85 degree day over a 25 degree day every time. I love running in shorts and a tank, and I find it SO satisfying to come in from a run and be absolutely disgustingly drenched with sweat.
However, much like running in the “extreme cold”, the “extreme heat” requires careful planning and strategy. There are lots of things to take into consideration before you head out your front door and into the heat.
Run in the morning to beat the intense sun. Sure, sometimes it stinks to rise out of bed when you husband is still sound asleep to pound the pavement, but you know what? When you’re all done, you can go to the beach and soak up all that sun you just avoided. In the summer, I like to be done running by 9 am. This doesn’t always happen, but I try my hardest to make it so. One of the benefits of summer running though is that there are many more hours of daylight in which you can do your runs. More hours of daylight mean that you can get out before OR after work: If early mornings don’t work, try running when the sun is starting to set.
Forget your times.
It can be hard, but running in the heat can often mean letting go of your expectations. Heat will slow you down 20-30 seconds per a mile.My run on Sunday felt like a lot more effort and was at a much slower pace than I wanted. This IS to be expected though.
WATER WATER GATORADE!
You Must HYDRATE!!!! I start drinking water right when I get up, and I usually drink a tall glass of Gatorade before I leave the house. I have read that it is recommended to drink 8-16 ounces of liquids before leaving the house. So DRINK UP! A lot! And not beer or anything equally as refreshing: Drink that water and your Gatorade/Powerade. And while you’re out running, 2-4 sips of water every 15 minutes. This is obviously a lot of liquids so I find it easiest to either carry my handheld water bottle for shorter runs, or use my Camelbak for longer runs.
But, there are some days that I just do NOT want to carry a single thing with me (I’m not a huge fan of my hand held water bottle) so I always carry $5 in cash and my debit card with me and plan my run around stores that I can stop at.
If I am stopping at a store due to thirst, I typically pick up a Gatorade and chug it. My body NEEDS those electrolytes and if I’m stopping, I’m most likely far away from my house, and I know my body will need those electrolytes to get me back home. There are times after I finish a Gatorade though that I will find myself immediately thirsty AGAIN-At this point I will intake water to quench my thirst.
Don’t “Feel The Burn”
Try to run before 10am or after 4pm. The sun’s rays are at their strongest during that time period. Don’t forget the sunscreen and make sure it’s a sport brand so when you are melting faster than a popsicle, you are still protected. And while we’re at it, throw on a hat and sunglasses, and don’t forget that chapstick with SPF in it is also a great idea.
Dress for it
If you have run in the summertime before, than you are already aware of your schWeeeeeet tan lines: For me, the worst tan line is my ankles. No matter WHAT I do, my feet never seem to catch up with my legs and I am left with pale feet it is pretty weird looking! And don’t even get my STARTED on my weird t back tan lines!
Anyway-Weird tan lines aside, one of the keys to running in the heat is dressing for it. I found the chart below on runnersworld.com. I have always followed the 20 degree rule (if it is 40, dress like it is 60) but Runners World suggests following the 10 degree rule. Maybe I just heat up more quickly?
Wear as little as you can possibly get away with( but don’t give away the farm.) Light colored, lightweight dry wicking fabrics are best. Try not to layer up as that will only be more fabric to weigh you down.
Things to keep in mind.
Different things happen when its hotter:
-Chafing: I usually end up breaking up with all my sports bras in the summer months and buying new ones. Chafing is real and it is PAINFUL. Vaseline and Body Glide can help alleviate this.
-Blisters caused by excess sweat- try wearing moisture wicking socks.
-Black toenails can also be problems in the summer. Solution: bigger sneakers for summer weather(your feet can swell a half a size) and trim your toenails on the reg!
Plan out your Harder workouts.
I certainly wouldn’t plan my tempo run on a day that is 90 outside with 70% humidity and in the full sun. Unless you’re a Kenyan, direct sun will slow you down(just kidding, I made that up-but rumor has it its hot in Kenya.). You can plan to run early, plan to run a shady route, or hit the gym and do it on a treadmill.
Know that there is a period of adjusting for your body.
I didn’t feel great during my hot run on Sunday. This was really the first run I had done in SUPER hot temps- I wasn’t entirely ready for it. I know that my body needs time to adjust to running through the heat. In a few weeks, it won’t feel so hard. My breathing will get better as I get used to it.
If none of these Survival Tips work for you, try to remember “WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER” —> Repeat this in your head, over and over and over. Remember that it is just like running in the awful, freezing, cold, snowy, windy, stoooopid winter weather: It made me MUCH tougher and ready for spring running. Summer running will only help you kick some fall butt! Running through all kinds of weather will make those legs and mind STRONGER!! I literally have nothing to do all summer but get better at running…By the time I come back to school in the fall, I am faster, fitter, and ready to kill my fall marathons. So don’t be afraid to run in the heat.—>embrace it!
How do you survive the summer heat?