We might be half way through July but in the Midwest, we generally have plenty of warm weather ahead of us. If you’ve been letting the heat deter you from lacing up and hitting the road, here are a few tips that can help you beat the heat.
Not surprised to see this one first on the list, are ya? That’s because it’s SO important no matter what you’re doing outside in the heat. Drinking plenty of water will help your body maintain it’s temperature and prevent cramping.
2. Go in the Morning
Even if you aren’t one for a.m. workouts, getting done in the morning can be the difference between running in 70 degree weather or 100 degree weather. The sun comes up plenty early so you can be finished before you get ready for the day and be off the roads when everyone else starts heading to work. Not to mention, waking up with the sun is great for your body clock and can give you energy for the rest of the day.
3. Take your H2O to Go
If you couldn’t pull yourself out of bed early enough to beat the heat (some days that just isn’t possible), take a small bottle of water with you. Better yet, take a frozen one. The body heat from your hand and the warmth of the environment will thaw it out as you go. In the meantime, the cold sensation on your hand can actually make you feel cooler than you are.
4. Put on the SPF
Even in the early hours, Summer sun rays are strong and can put you at risk for UV skin damage or sunburn. I recommend using a formula specifically for sports. These types tend to be less greasy and as a result won’t cause extra sweating which can dehydrate you faster. Use a non-greasy face sunscreen to avoid the burn of sun screen in the eyes and avoid breakouts.
5. Protect Your Eyes
For obvious reasons you should wear good-quality sunglasses to protect your eyes. Always be a future thinker when it comes to your health. But additionally, having sun in your eyes can also affect your run more directly– squinting causes the muscles in your face to tense up, which causes the muscles in your neck and shoulders to tense as well. Good sun glasses can help you have a more relaxed and comfortable run. You may also opt to wear a hat, though if you are acne-prone I recommend taking it off right after and washing your face as soon as you can.
6. Set Realistic Goals
If it’s already 80+ degrees outside when you’re running, don’t expect to run your fastest miles or go too much further than usual. As runners know, our bodies thrive in cooler weather around 45 degrees. Progress in the summer should be made slowly and cautiously. If it’s 90 degrees+ and you aren’t used to running in warm weather, consider trading your run for a walk or head in to a treadmill or other machine (I know, boring, but easier on your body!)
7. Don’t Skip the Cool Down
After your run in the sun, your muscles are going to be extra depleted. While warming up is important, it won’t take as long as normal, on the other hand, cooling down will be more of a challenge. It’s best to avoid going into the cold AC immediately after a run. This can be a shock to the system and could even result in a skin rash if this behavior is repeated. Take time to walk for a few minutes before doing some stretching in the shade. And whatever you do, don’t sit down right after a run to avoid cramping up.
8. Share your Running Schedule
If you don’t run in town or along a well-traveled road, make sure someone knows what you’re doing. This is a good idea for running year round. If you live/run on your own, text a family member or friend and tell them where you’re running, how far, and when you expect to be done. This way, if something does go wrong it won’t go unnoticed and, in a worst case scenario, someone will know that you are in trouble. Even when you feel prepared for your run, it’s best to stay on the safe side.
9. Leave the Fur-Babies at Home
While they are an adorable distraction to have and the exercise is just as good for them as it is for you, when it comes to heat, dogs are at a greater risk for heat stroke or burnt feet. Since they’re lower to the ground, the heat coming up from the road/pavement cooks them from below while the sun bakes them from above. You don’t want to be miles from home without a car or phone when your pet starts showing the signs of heat stroke. Don’t risk it. Take them for a walk when it’s cool or play fetch in the grass to avoid hurting their sensitive paws and as usual make sure they have fresh water available.
10. Cross Train
Running can be stressful on our bodies even without the heat. To avoid injury, utilize summer activities to help you balance out your fitness routine while getting stronger for your fall running schedule. Go swimming to add resistance, work new muscles, and give your joints a break. Build upper body strength by kayaking or make it extra challenging for your core and go paddle boarding. Summer is also a great time to focus on building muscle in the gym– where there’s AC. Having an active summer will help find balance while staying in shape to avoid injury or burnout so that you can hit your stride this fall.
Ultimately, listen to your body and trust your gut. There are so many ways to stay in shape, if you aren’t feeling up to running in the heat, don’t risk it! Stay cool and stay safe!