Ah, summer. For some the thought of summertime brings up wonderful thoughts of days at the beach, road trips, ice cream, fireworks, fun in the sun, and relaxation. Not me though. While those things are fun in their own right, I’m a self-proclaimed cold weather person and I don’t particularly enjoy the summer months. The thought of summertime makes me think of super early mornings, that gross feeling of your thighs sticking to a chair on a warm summer day, getting third degree burns while trying to buckle your seat belt in a boiling hot car, and of course hot, slow, miserable runs, feeling like I’m drowning in my own sweat, and bugs. So. Many. BUGS!!
Haha alright, alright, I’m a bit melodramatic, I can admit that. I can also admit that summer running does have its perks and sometimes it can be down right enjoyable! Still though, I can’t wait for fall to get here. 😉 But since summer is in full swing and we’ve got a while before fall blesses us with its wonderful presence, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little about surviving summer runs. It can be a little tricky sometimes! But these are my tips for making running in hot, humid weather, more bearable! 🙂
1. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you could ever do for your body! Dehydration can cause a slew of unpleasant side effects such as feeling tired and sluggish, headaches, dizziness, and rapid heart rate. Yeah, that’s not a good way to feel in general, but side effects like that can make running an absolutely miserable experience, so staying hydrated is a must!! And not just before your run either. When the weather is hot you sweat a lot more and that dehydrates you pretty quickly, so it’s usually a good idea to take in some fluids while you run too. Water is always a fantastic option, but if you’re like me and sweat super salty, or are planning on doing a hard workout or are just going to be running for more than an hour sipping on a sports drink to replace electrolytes might be a good idea as well.
As for when and how much you should be drinking on a run, well, that’s going to vary from person to person. I generally like to take a few sips of water and maybe a sports drink if it’s particularly hot or if I’m going longer around every 2-3 miles. But that’s just what works for me. You’ll have to do a bit of experimenting to find what works for you.
A good way to gauge your hydration is actually your urine color! If it’s a darker yellow (think apple juice) then you need to drink more. If it’s a nice pale yellow you’re probably adequately hydrated. If it’s completely clear then you might be overdoing it on water and might need some electrolytes as well. Now more likely than not, when you finish a run your urine is probably going to be a dark yellow. That’s perfectly fine! Just make sure you drink enough to get it back to a pale yellow as soon as you can. I’m always weirdly proud when my urine is just the right color hahaha.
2. Dress Appropriately
What you wear can make a really big difference on how you feel! In the summer its best to opt for light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, made with a breathable, moisture wicking material. When it’s really hot shedding as much clothing as you’re comfortable with and the law allows (as far as I know, most states in the US frown upon displaying your more intimate bits in public 😉 ) can also help keep you cool.
The goal in the summer is to keep sweat and excess body heat moving away from the body and everything mentioned above will help with that. Tight fitting clothes can can actually trap in some heat and cotton material gets weighed down with sweat and doesn’t breathe the way moister wicking material does. That can leave you feeling more hot and even a little weighed down. Plus that can cause all kinds of uncomfortable chafing and blisters. Take it from someone who accidentally wore a pair of cotton socks on a hot summer day, moister wicking material is important! I’ve literally never made that mistake again haha.
3. Wear sunscreen
I’ve heard several conflicting things about sunscreen; That it prevents your body from absorbing as much UV rays and therefore keeping you marginally cooler. Or that it can block your sweat glands and prevents you from sweating as much and therefore making you retain more heat. Now I’m not sure if either of those things are true, but what I do know is that sunburn sucks. Protect your skin. Wear sunscreen.
4. Wear A Hat
Hats have become one of my all-time favorite pieces of running gear. I started out my running career as a headband girl, but that quickly changed once I learned just how versatile and useful hats are! Now I rarely run without one. In the summer hats with a mesh back are probably your best option. That will allow some heat to escape while keeping your face nice and shaded (and in my case it also helps keep my hair out of my face and mouth. 😉 ). Visors are also a good choice for the summer, but if you wear one you one really be able to do #5 on this list.
5. Put Ice In Your Hat
Obviously the logistics of this one can be a little tricky, but if you’re running near home, have the ability to stop at a gas station/restaurant/store, or have an awesome person supporting you on a run or who is willing to meet you somewhere, putting a few ice cubes in your hat can be a real life saver!!! It cools you off pretty quick but since it takes the ice a little bit to melt it can help keep you a little bit cooler for longer than just dumping water in on your head. Although in a pinch, dumping water on your head is also refreshing! It doesn’t keep you as cool for as long though, that’s why I prefer ice! Another good place to stick a few ice cubes is in your sports bra! Cool boobs are happy boobs, that’s what I always say! 😉 Hahaha ok, I’ve never actually said that, but a few ice cubes in the sports bra when it’s crazy hot out is also nice way to cool off a bit. 🙂
6. Run In Shade If You Can
Never underestimate the cooling effects of running in the shade!! It can feel around 10-15 degrees cooler in the shade. Not because it’s actually cooler or anything, the temperature is still the same, but while in the shade you get hit with less solar radiation and therefore don’t feel as hot. It also might help you avoid getting a sun burn, but you shouldn’t have to worry about that, because you’re wearing sun screen, right? 😉
But anyway, planning a route with some nice, tall trees can be a life saver on a hot day, when the sun is out!
7. Get Out Before The Sun
Did you know on a hot summer day asphalt can get up around 140 degrees?? That’s why it’s usually not safe to walk your dog on in when it’s hot out, but that’s another post for another day. 😉 But you know what happens to the heat the asphalt absorbs on hot days? It reflects it right back up. So imagine this; your out running on a hot summer day, it’s about 85 degrees out, the sun is shining directly on you, and the asphalt is just reflecting even more heat back up at you. Doesn’t sound too pleasant, right? So the solution to this little problem is to get out before the sun comes up and heats up the asphalt. Which unfortunately requires waking up pretty early haha. Don’t get me wrong, running has turned me into a morning person, but like, a 6:30-7:00 kinda morning person. Waking up around 4:30-5:00 am is just too much morning, ya feel me? 😉 It’s usually worth it on a hot summer day though. Running at 5 in the morning is a lot more comfortable than running at 5 in the afternoon, after the suns been out all day and the asphalt is burning hot. Plus you’re usually greeted with some pretty amazing sunrises!!
8. Slow Down
I know this is something that a lot of people don’t want to hear, but when it’s really hot and humid out one of the best things you can do is slow down. Maybe even take walking breaks if you have to. I know runners are constantly striving to better themselves and get discouraged when they feel like they’re working really hard but their paces don’t reflect that. Well Ashley is here to tell you that that’s ok!! The heat can really slow you down and if you’re not careful you can easily end up overheating. Heat exhaustion is no joke! So stay safe out there. Slow down. Don’t over exert yourself and end up sick or injured. Summer is the perfect time of year to focus on running by feel instead of running by whatever pace your GPS watch is reading. I promise you’ll end up feeling better when your run is done, and once the weather starts getting better you’ll be able to run faster again.
9. Be Aware Of Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
Just as you must be wary of frost bite and hypothermia in the winter, you must be wary and know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Especially if you plan on being outside in the sun for long periods of time (and remember that it can happen in a short amount of time as well). This kind of stuff can and does happen, even to the most fit and prepared people, so I think it’s very important to know the symptoms and what to do if you, your running buddy, or some guy out mowing his yard, starts exhibiting said symptoms. THESE ARE SERIOUS CONDITIONS AND CAN TURN ANY RUN OR OUTDOOR ACTIVITY INTO A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION!
Stay safe out there guys! The point is to enjoy running for as long in life as possible, not to push yourself so hard that you end up sick or in the hospital.
10. When Worst Comes To Worst, Stay Indoors
You wake up early in the morning, before the sun is even out and get ready to run; you drink some water and enjoy a nice breakfast, apply a liberal amount of sunscreen, don your lightest colored, loose-fitting, dry fit tank top and shorts, your most favorite trucker hat, and bad-ass reflective sunglasses, you plan to stop back at your house every 2-3 miles for a sip of water and to cool down with some ice. You’re ready to roll! “But better check my weather app first” you think to yourself as your about to walk out the door, and are greeted with several alerts about the heat and air quality.
You know you’re a heat sensitive person with asthma. Your also smart enough to know that sometimes running outside just isn’t worth it. Right??
Haha obviously that’s a situation I’ve found myself in several times in the almost 5 years that I’ve been running. And usually I am smart enough to know that running outside just isn’t worth it. There have been a few times I was not smart though and tried to run anyway. Luckily in those situations I’ve always ended up cutting my runs short after realizing I’d made a bad decision, and so far I’ve always managed to realize that well before I’d run into any serious trouble. Luckily for me, I’ve become a little more cautions about this kind of thing as I’ve gotten a little older and learned more about running and life in general.
The lesson here, my friends, is sometimes it’s just not worth it. If the weather is ever detrimental to your health or safety, it’s usually best to stay indoors. Maybe run on a treadmill instead, or do some laps in a pool, take a spin class, try out some yoga, or something. I know getting in your miles or doing certain workouts are important, but that’s never more important than staying healthy. There really are times when you’re better off doing nothing than risking injury, illness, or even death. Don’t risk your well-being on something as stupid as some arbitrary number of miles or a specific work out. It’s not worth it.
Alright, I know those last 2 points were kinda serious and I’m not trying to scare anyone off of summer running or anything. Summer running can be fun and has all sorts of benefits! I just think it’s important to keep those things in mind.
Enjoy your summer (or at least try to if you’re like me and dislike the heat haha), have fun, stay safe, and remember; summer miles bring fall smiles!
Happy summer running, everyone!