Running in the Heat? 10 Tips to Stay Cool at All Times
Summer, sun & sunnies! With the first sun rays, our mood improves immediately. Pools, lakes and beaches fill up with smiling people looking for refreshment. With our board shorts or bikini on is when we become especially conscious of our body – we want to keep fit & look good. But, who’s actually motivated to do an HIIT session or go running in the heat? Yeah, we thought so… These 10 tips will help you stay cool during your workouts even when it’s sweltering outside!
How your body reacts to heat
Physical activity at temperatures of more than 85°F/30°C noticeably strains your body and cardiovascular system. The heat also makes your body temperature rise. Your body reacts with increased sweat production, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate. Here’s what you can do to best support your body when running in the heat:
1. Start your summer workouts slowly
Give your body time to adjust to the higher temperatures. Avoid intense training sessions during the first few really hot days and start off slowly. Increase your workout intensity step by step and allow your body to acclimate.
2. Heat affects your heart
In summer, your heart rate is elevated. When running with a heart rate monitor, remember that higher temperatures also boost your heart rate even if you run at your usual pace. Therefore, it might be a good idea to take it a bit slower. The fitter you are, the better your body will cope with the heat, preventing your heart rate from skyrocketing.
3. Avoid midday heat
Choosing the right time of day for your training runs or races is vital during the summer months. Avoid running in the midday heat and head out in the morning or evening instead. At that time of day, it’s not only cooler, but there’s also less ozone in the atmosphere. High ozone values can irritate your eyes and airways.
4. Select the right routes
With the sun burning in the sky, adjusting your route definitely makes sense. Running through the woods is not only fun, it also keeps you in the shade. If it’s still too hot (or no forest nearby), you might want to run on a treadmill.
5. Choose the ideal outfit
Also, the right workout clothes can protect your skin from sun rays, even better than some sunscreens. Go for a loose fit and moisture-wicking materials for both your shirt and shorts to prevent heat from building up under your clothes. Next, make sure you choose light colors. They reflect the sunlight and don’t store the heat. Shirt and shorts are just part of your outfit, though. A cap or light scarf can protect your head while keeping your face in the shade. Last but not least, wear sunglasses with UV filter.
6. Protect your skin
Cover all skin parts exposed to the sun with waterproof sunscreen (due to the sweat). The sun protection factor (SPF) tells you how long the sunscreen extends your skin’s own natural protection time. How much sunscreen you need depends on your skin type, the time of day and current UV levels. Don’t forget to rub some on your neck, the back of your knees and your ears!
7. Stay hydrated
When running in the heat, your body tries to lower your core body temperature by sweating more. This causes you to lose fluids and minerals like magnesium or iron. Even a small change in your fluid balance can lead to major performance losses. The most important thing is to start off well hydrated. Drink regularly throughout the day and stick to diluted fruit juices, teas and water (tap or mineral). If you’re going to be working out for more than an hour, make sure to have a water bottle with you and take a sip from time to time.
8. Fill up on minerals
Wholesome foods rich in vitamins and minerals should be a regular part of your meal plan the whole year round. But when it’s hot outside, your body loses more minerals than usual due to sweating. Since your body can’t produce these on its own, they have to be obtained through the food you eat. Foods such as bananas, dried apricots and whole grain products are ideal for replacing lost minerals and make great post-workout snacks.
9. Don’t be too ambitious
If you experience headaches, intense thirst, muscle cramps or dizziness, you should stop immediately, look for shade and drink some water. False pride is often your worst enemy when running in the heat, so leave it at home. Your body also needs longer to recover when it is very hot. When you don’t feel well, the heat is bearing down and it’s really humid, then it’s probably a good idea to take a rest day or opt for a more refreshing training alternative.
10. Find great training alternatives
Pounding out kilometer after kilometer, drenched in sweat and with a bright red head? It doesn’t have to be like that. When the pavement is scorching, trade your running shoes for a pair of wheels. Biking is a good way to supplement your running training and enjoy the cool breeze. Water aerobics or aqua jogging are good ways to cool off and still get the training effect your muscles need.
Do you have some other training tips for running in the heat? Share them with us in the comments below!