Running in the Heat

It is that time of year where the days are heating up and the sun is beaming brighter than it has in several months. Serious runners sometimes take pride in continuing their running routine even in extreme weather conditions, but putting yourself in danger is not the only decision. Remember you can easily rearrange your schedule to run before the sun comes up or after the sun goes down. It is cooler during those hours, especially during these horribly hot days.

Here are a few suggestions for you dedicated runners out there:

First: Avoid Running during Peak Hours

Avoid running during the peak of the day, particularly during these hot days. It was 80 degrees before 10 am today. That means as the sun continues to rise the temperature continues to increase. Do your best to run in the morning before the sun rises or after sunset. This will help ensure a safe run.

Second: Hydrate, Hydrate, HYDRATE

It is important to drink plenty of water and flavored sports drinks that can help replenish electrolytes and nutrients lost during workouts and runs. Drink before you start running, drink WHILE running and drink plenty AFTER you run. More importantly, you should make hydrating your body a necessary daily routine that way your body can easily adjust to these incredibly hot days.

Hydrating your body should not be a special occasion.

Third: Water v. Sports Drinks and Snacks

Your body needs more than water to survive. As you exercise, especially during these hot days, your body is excreting both water and other nutrients. In order to stay healthy and alert, make sure you are drinking both water, sports drinks that have certain electrolytes and nutrients needed to replenish that which you have sweated and eat some salty snacks. As you workout you excrete salt, you HAVE to replenish that sodium.

Fourth: Be Attentive to your Body’s Signs

As a runner, you must always be aware of what your body is telling you. Remember that no one workout is worth incapacitating you for an extended period of time. All things in moderation is a code to live by, even if you are a dedicated runner.

For example, Brett Hess says “[a]n early warning sign that your body isn’t handling the hot conditions well is your effort level. Say you train with a heart rate monitor and you typically are in the 140-145 beats per minute range when running 8 – minute miles. If your heart rate is inching up to 155 or 160 when running an 8 – minute pace, then it’s time to back off.”

There are plenty of other signs to be cognizant of: chills, termination of sweating, headache, sudden onset of fatigue, etc. At this point, it is important to stop what you are doing, hydrate your body and restore the nutrients and sodium emitted from your body.

Fifth: Acceptable Hydration 

Merely taking in fluid is not always the answer. It is important to drink fluids; any fluids will work in most instances. However, when you are running during the summer months it is important to hydrate the right way. Stick with the water, the nutrient rich water and sports drinks and limit the alcohol intake. Alcohol tends to dehydrate the body. Naturally, it seems, that you should stay away from that.

I hate to say this, but you should stay away from caffeine, too! Caffeinated beverages naturally dehydrate your body, also. I know, I know cutting back on caffeine and alcohol is a lot to ask!

Sixth: Take Frequent Breaks

Take breaks along your run so you don’t overexert yourself. I know many people pride themselves on running without breaks, but in extreme heat the body tires quickly. You do not have to stop, just run a bit slower.

Seventh: Run in Breathable Clothing

It is important to wear clothing that is lightweight, light in color and breathable, yet still protects you from the sun. Companies like Under Armour make great running clothes that help absorb perspiration while exercising, yet is breathable enough not overheat your body. This is key to running success, especially in the summer.

Many people want to maintain the integrity of their running routine while ignoring the hot conditions outside. If you are one of these people then make sure you are listening to your body, knowing your limitations and hydrating your body the necessary way prior to, during and after your workout.

Remember running should be fun, not painful and debilitating!



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