Summer running – do you love it or hate it? Living in the DC area, we have heat, and we have humidity. To add to those elements, I’m trying to do as much running in hilly areas as possible to be well trained for hilly races. So my long runs incorporate the three H’s:
While I love the feeling I get from a great run outside, it can be tricky in hot weather, and I’ve suffered some unhappy consequences to summer running. This summer, as my runs got longer for Ironman training, and now during late summer training for another half Ironman and a fall marathon, I’ve been working through all the elements needed for summer running and have a few tips to share.
7 Tips for Summer Running
1. Choose the right fabrics. Dressing for summer weather extends beyond just wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. When you’re running in the heat, it’s best to wear clothing that is made of a technical material to ensure your body doesn’t get weighed down with sweaty cotton. The breathable fabric could make all the difference between a successful run and having to slow down or stop due to heat-related issues. Adding a hat or visor as well can help keep you cool and offer sun protection for your scalp, face, and eyes.
2. Wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin is extremely important – don’t forget the sunscreen! Often we forget on cloudy days, but I keep the sunscreen by the door as an easy reminder to apply it before every run.
3. Beat the heat. Become an earlybird and start before the sun is fully risen. You’ll avoid the most dangerous part of the day. As an alternative, you could run in the evening, but in this area the heat and humidity is still fairly oppressive in the evening. Figure out which works best for you, but avoiding the midday sun on a really hot day is the best tactic.
4. Hydrate early and often. Remember to hydrate before and during the run, and then follow up with replenishing when after you’re finished. It’s so easy to forget the before and after, or go out for a run without a handheld water bottle, but it’s so important! I often carry Base salt with me to help me sustain my energy and electrolytes, or drop an electrolyte tablet into my handheld water bottle and to replenish after the run.
5. Choose your routes wisely. Can you find a shady trail or a breezy waterside path rather than an exposed, sunny sidewalk? Finding a scrap of shade, or a nice breeze, can be a lifesaver on a hot run.
6. Listen to your body. Don’t be a hero – your running goals aren’t worth jeopardizing your health. If you feel as though your body is telling you to take a break – do it! And changing your plan based on heat advisories by taking it indoors to a treadmill, doing an alternate workout such as strength training, or swapping running days are all viable options to keep you safe and healthy.
7. Adjust your expectations. I always like to do my best, but I have to temper my expectations during hot summer running months. If I push myself too hard, I could end up with disastrous consequences. I had one long run this summer where I had to call a ride to pick me up – it just wasn’t safe to continue the way I was feeling. Running a slower pace, giving your body time to adjust with a longer warm-up, and not being too frustrated if you don’t hit your pace goals is important.
I’ll freely admit that fall is my favorite season, but I do love summer running, despite the heat and humidity! I have more time in the summer, travel a bit to experience running in other locations, and can meet up with friends for group runs more often.
Do you love or merely tolerate summer running? Are you training for a fall race?