Every time the season changes, I get a little bummed.
When I get used to doing something a certain way, it takes a while for me to adjust.
As last winter approached, I worried that the colder temperatures and rain would prevent me from running outside a lot of the time, I worried that every run would have to be on the treadmill, or that I would hate running in winter gear. A few weeks later I was completely used to it and loving it, the cold air is great to run in.
Then spring came, and of course I had a whole bunch of new reasons to be worried: hot temperatures that wouldn’t allow me to run far or fast, a strong sun that would bother my eyes and burn my skin, etc.
Sure, I can be a bit dramatic sometimes, but I am a worrier like that.
Now that it’s been warm for some time here, I want to share some of what helped me plan my running better in hot temperatures:
Check the weather: If you are able to know in advance when you’ll be running, check the weather so you can plan accordingly. Sometimes even a half hour can make a big difference in temperature and humidity level. Try to schedule your runs for a time when it’s cooler such as early morning or late in the afternoon or evening. Take into consideration the actual temperature, humidity level, wind, and if the sun is out (as opposed to night or overcast skies).
Plan your route: Where you run also makes a big difference in temperature. If you are running during the day, try to find a shaded route. An open area with trees and breeze will always be cooler than running in the city, keep in mind black asphalt absorbs heat and adds a few degrees to the already warm temperatures.
Drink a lot: This is the most obvious tip and one we all know already, but it’s the most important one too, so it really can’t be stressed enough: we need to drink a lot when running in hot weather. Drink before your run, during, and after. I am the first to admit that I don’t like to drink a lot before my run (it makes me want to pee) or during my run (it makes me want to pee, plus my stomach feels full and heavy), but in warm days drinking only after I’m done running is just not enough. I try to drink plenty during the day so I’m fully hydrated for next day’s morning run, but I also drink before I start running, and I’ve been practicing with drinking during longish runs.
Protect yourself: Wear light, airy, sweat wicking clothes, to keep as cool as possible. This will make a huge difference on your performance and how you feel during your run. Wear a hat or visor to protect your head/face/eyes from the sun. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen in all exposed areas, even early in the morning the sun burns, especially when we are wet with sweat.
Pick your shoes: I read this tip somewhere and thought it was brilliant.. how did I not think of this before? Feet swell on hot weather, especially during long periods of exercise. If you are running over an hour, pick your airiest pair of shoes.
Adjust your training: Hard runs are not suitable for hot weather. If you are planning on doing some serious speed work, see in advance if there will be a cooler day during the week, and schedule that run for that day, or for cooler hours. Keep your runs on warm weather light or moderate effort. If you are racing, remember that higher temperatures will mean a slower run, so readjust your paces and goal time accordingly.
Refuel: Eating and drinking as soon as possible after running not only promotes muscle recovery, but also assists our bodies to regain the right balance of minerals lost through sweat. Experiment with what works best for you in terms of what to eat/drink and quantity. I have water with electrolytes right after any run, and an energy bar if it was a long or hard effort run. About an hour later I have a shake with fruits/soymilk/flaxseed/etc. and a granola bar.
Be smart: If you are feeling lightheaded, dizzy, too hot, too cold (yes, it happens) or start having muscle spasms (usually do to minerals lost through sweat), please STOP RUNNING. Pay attention to how you are feeling at all times. One run is not worth feeling sick or doing even the slightest damage to your body. Take care of yourself, and remember you can always run again tomorrow.
Happy Summer running!