I’ve been thinking lately about how to make the most of summer running, because while I love this season and particularly this month (fireworks and my birthday, what could be better?) the heat and humidity in the Northeast can mean training is a challenge. I am not a natural warm weather runner, and in fact I sweat and eventually wilt in the heat, so it amazes me that I can accomplish what I do, looking back. How do I do it? I follow these five tips for summer running, for the other runners out there who would rather require long sleeves for a long run than an ice bucket to pour over their heads afterwards.
1. Get outside early
This is one of the most common warm weather running tips, but it bears repeating because it’s so important. If you get outside when the sun has just risen and isn’t so high in the sky, it’s easier to beat the heat. The rays might be shining down on you already at 6am, but the intensity is nowhere near what it will be by 8am or 10am. I’m guilty of getting out later on weekends, which is when I really should get an early start because those are my longer run days on my marathon training plan, but even then I’m usually out the door just before 8am. By the time my run is over and it’s after 10 I’m sweating enough, and when you step outside again come noon, you realize what a difference every hour makes.
2. Hydrate in a balanced way
Drinking to thirst is often the recommendation for running in warmer weather, but it can actually be bad advice. You can over-hydrate, causing hyponatremia, if you drain an entire water bottle early on in your workout. And it’ll probably make your stomach feel uncomfortably sloshy. However, not drinking any water at all because you don’t feel thirsty isn’t the way to go either. I’m not someone who typically carries water with me but as I get deeper into marathon training I’ve realized it’s best to do so unless I want to plan my runs in Central Park around being near a water fountain every two miles. I take in a few sips every couple of miles whether I’m very thirsty or not, and I fare a lot better. I’m also experimenting with electrolyte pills because I’m not a fan of sports drinks and just water isn’t enough when you’re sweating out buckets of salt.
3. Wear wicking clothing
Nobody likes chafing. It’s a fact. So when you’re sweating on a summer run, it’s crucial to wear clothing that wicks away the sweat and keeps you cool. Body glide helps too.
4. Sunscreen and shades
Speaking of what to wear, don’t forget your sunscreen even if it’s five in the morning. Your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays in your comfy tank or short sleeve top and shorts, so find a brand that’s waterproof or you’ll sweat it all off and risk looking like a lobster. I also find that wearing a hat or visor helps to keep the sun out of my eyes and add additional protection against sunburn for my face. I know a lot of runners like to wear sunglasses, but I haven’t found a way to wear them without them sliding down my nose, and I enjoy the shade a hat brim provides.
5. Refuel and recharge right
It’s critical to rehydrate not just during your run, but immediately following and throughout the rest of the day. Continuing to drink water, eat refreshing foods like watermelon, peaches, and other summer fruits, and replenish your salt stores does wonders. The foods in season in summer are what I naturally crave after a warm weather run anyway, and it makes sense because they’re a great way to refuel when you’ve lost a lot of fluids. It’s also good to take advantage of the nice weather and get outside for an afternoon stroll if you ran in the morning. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that it feels cooler when you’re not running, and this allows your muscles to remain looser and not tighten up by sitting inside in the air conditioning on the couch all day (although that can be appealing after a 12-miler…)
Favorite season for running?
Do you fare better in extreme heat or icy cold for outdoor workouts?
Care to share your best tip for warm weather running?
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One thought on “Five Tips for Summer Running”
I love going outside after a run, because it does change my perspective on the heat. Also, I’m glad you included the danger of over-hydrating, because I can be too vigilant about hydrating and drink more than I need. It’s amazing how it really is all about a balance when it comes to hydration.