Why is Running in the Heat so Hard?
Heat is the most difficult and often dangerous element to face while you are out on a run. Without proper care and caution a good training run can turn into a nightmare! What makes running in the heat so hard you might wonder?
First, you have an overall increase in body temperature. Similar to having a fever, the higher your body temperature the worse you are going to feel.
Second, once your body starts to heat up your blood is diverted to the skin to help you sweat to stay cool. This is all well and good but because your blood has been diverted you now have less blood available to help transport oxygen through your system. Less oxygen means you can’t run as fast or as hard. This dramatically increases the amount of effort you need to put into your run to stay at your normal pace. This effect is very similar to the effects of altitude training.
Last, the hotter it is the more easily you can become dehydrated. When fluid levels in the body drop your ability to sweat becomes more difficult. This is turn causes your core temperature to rise even faster, accelerating the effects that cause you to not feel well.
10 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat
As bad as all of that may sound the good news is that there are ways you can help counter these effects and still enjoy your run even on those hot days. Here are 10 different ways to help you beat the heat this summer. ☀️
1. Start Your Summer Runs off Gradually - Give your body time to adjust to the higher temperature. Start your runs slower than usual and work up to your normal pace. Taking it one step at a time gives your body time to acclimate to the hotter temperatures. You should try to work up to your normal pace within about a 14 day window, each day picking up your pace a bit more.
2. Avoid Midday Heat - While you can’t always be picky about the times you get to run choosing the right time of day while it’s hot can save you some of the punishment. Try running in the early mornings or later in the evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.
3. Choose the Ideal Outfit - This is truly a moment of less is better. Try wearing loose fit, moisture - wicking material for your shirt and shorts. Choose light colors, this will help reflect the sun's rays; you can even get clothing with built in UV protection. In case you didn’t know almost all RUSEEN Reflective Apparel clothing has all of these features! A lightweight hat and some sunglasses with UV protection is a great idea as well.
SIDE NOTE: If you choose to run in the early mornings or late in the evening be sure to wear some reflective clothing to be seen. It is an easy step you can take to help keep you safe on your runs.
4. Protect You Skin - Wearing less means more exposed skin. Sunburn is nobody's friend so be sure to cover all of your exposed areas with sunscreen. Choose a waterproof sunscreen to prevent runoff from sweat and one that has a strong enough SPF depending on your skin type.
5. Stay Hydrated - As you sweat your body loses fluids and minerals like magnesium and iron. Even small changes in fluids can lead to major performance losses. It is extremely important to try and stay hydrated throughout the day to help prepare you for your runs.
DO NOT drink a bunch of water before you go out for your run, this can cause you to be sick. Drinking while on your run is fine but take small sips as you go. Your drink should be warmer than usual as well. Drinking a very cold drink while your body temperature is high can cause you to go into shock, so try something room temperature.
Other than water, stick to sports drinks, diluted fruit juices and teas. Sports drinks will also give you the benefit of replacing electrolytes so that you retain your water longer. If you are going on a longer run try taking a camel pack instead of just a bottle so you have plenty of water for your run.
6. Choose the Right Routes - Having shade instead of the hot sun beating down on you makes a huge difference. Try to find a route that’s more wooded so that you have lots of coverage.
Just because the heat is beating down doesn’t mean your run has to be ruined. Take it as a challenge, take it as a day to try something different! No matter what you do just make sure you prepare properly and train smart. Happy running, cheers! 🍻