Summer weather creates very real hurdles for runners. The amount of heat stored in the body limits the duration of exercise at a given intensity, meaning the body cannot perform as well in high temperatures and humidity levels. Expectations need to be lowered and reasonable paces need to be maintained, especially for beginners. To overcome these challenges, runners need a strategic training approach that incorporates technique, equipment, and an understanding of why it’s so hard to run in the heat.
Here are five steps you can take to keep up the pace despite the sizzling summer sun.
Run in the Morning: As we all know, temperatures are usually cooler in the morning while the sun is still rising. Plus, running in the morning can boost your mood for the day! Can’t run outside? Consider taking it indoors in air conditioning so you can workout harder without having to fight the summer sun. Pro tip: Running on grass or near water will help you avoid the heat radiating from asphalt.
Stay Hydrated: Well, duh...but yes, hydration is still easily the most important part of any exercise program, especially running. It is of utmost importance that you properly hydrate yourself before, during, and after your run. Keeping hydrated is essential for both your health and your performance. Water controls your body temperature, eliminates waste, helps brings energy to your cells, and supports your joints. Ample hydration can help improve healing, reduce injury and cramping, and increase endurance.
Pre-Cooling: Exercise causes your body temperature to rise. The harder you work, the more rapid this rise will be. That’s where pre-cooling comes into play. Pre-cooling allows you to start exercising with as cool a body temperature as possible before stepping out into the summer sun. This trick will help you run longer, faster, and more effectively while preventing over-heating. Check out some pre-cooling methods here.
- Proper Attire: Choosing the right running gear will help keep you cool, dry, and protected from the sun. You want to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that’s breathable to help cool down your body’s temperature. You’ll also want to avoid dark colors since they absorb the sun’s rays. Instead, opt for light-colored clothing to help reflect the sun’s rays.
- Run by Effort, Not Pace: Effort-based running means judging your pace by how difficult it feels instead of how fast you’re moving. Start your runs slow and listen to your body. If you’re feeling strong, it’s okay to slowly pick the pace, but don’t overdo it. Pushing yourself past your limits will likely create more harm than good. Listen to your body instead of your watch.
Running smart this summer will help you condition and strengthen your body. And doing so safely will not only allow you to keep it up all summer, but will also set you up for an ideal fall running season.