Long summer days means more time to get outside and log those runs. However, with heat and humidity, running in Summer proves to be a challenge in itself. A human’s lack of body hair and highly evolved sweat system means that we have advantages when running in warmer temperatures. When we perspire (sweat) our body is able to naturally cool itself as the perspiration evaporates. Warmer humid temperatures can affect this system, as the air is already saturated by water meaning the sweat on the skin has nowhere to go. This makes running feel uncomfortable with even an easy effort feeling challenging. On the flip side of this, hot and dry temperatures mean that your sweat evaporates even quicker leading to dehydration.
It is inevitable that running in heat can feel harder than in cooler temperatures. Here are some tips on how to make training in the summer months manageable.
(1) Make adjustments
If you usually run during the middle of the day in summer you are going to be hitting the hottest part of the day. You may want to change the timings of your run to dawn or dusk when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. The times to avoid are from noon until 3pm. But, if you do end up running the hottest part of the day adjust your route so that you are running in the shade.
Throw out the long running tights and dark colors and bear your legs in some shorts. Wear clothing that is lightweight and has vents/mesh features which will help to keep you cool. Microfiber polyester and cotton blends are the fabrics of choice during the summer months. If you tend to burn easily, invest in a hat and make sure to wear sunscreen.
Make sure you keep hydrated. For runs shorter than 45 minutes you will be fine hydrating with water. For anything over 45 minutes, try out a sports drink which contains electrolytes (gatoraid, poweraid). These drinks increase your water absorption rate, replacing the electrolytes you lose in sweat. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to drink, if you are thirsty this means you are already low on fluids. Hydrate regularly throughout your run.
**It is also important to make sure you hydrate during the hours before and after you run.**
(4) Slow down
Your body takes some time to adjust to the hot/humid weather. You need to slow down your pace and reduce the intensity of your run when running in heat. Just because you can do 10 km in 57 mins doesn’t mean you can do the same when we are hitting the high temperatures of August. On your first run in hotter weather slow down your pace, cutting it by almost half. Over the next 1-2 weeks, you will be able to slowly build up to your previous level as your body adjusts to running in the heat.