It’s officially summer, and in some parts of the world, it’s getting HOT. Running in the heat can be challenging, as it adds an element of difficulty that cooler temperatures help keep at bay. Both heart rate and rate of perceived exertion, for example, run higher in the heat, as well as the risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
But summer can also be one of the best times to run—if you’re smart about it. We want all our virtual rock stars to stay safe and healthy no matter what the conditions, and so have compiled our favorite tips for running when the mercury’s rising.
Timing is everything: Experienced runners swear by running either early in the morning or later at night when the sun’s rays won’t multiply the already uncomfortable heat and humidity. By simply bumping your workouts earlier or later than you normally would, you can keep running comfortably through the summer.
Tip: If you run later at night, cooling down with an easy yoga/stretching session will bring down your heart rate and help you fall asleep.
Stay hydrated: Because you’ll sweat more during hot runs, you’ll also lose more critical electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium. In addition to replenishing water, reach for sports drinks that contain these key minerals.
Tip: An Epsom salt bath can be another great way to get magnesium back into your body, as your skin absorbs this mineral well.
Keep the sun at bay: If you must run in the sunshine, choose lightweight, sweat-wicking clothing in cool colors (avoid black), and don’t forget a hat and shades. It’s always hotter in cities than in surrounding areas because asphalt and concrete retain heat, so if your route is in an urban or suburban area, look for shady trails and sidewalks.
Tip: Hit the trails, if you can, for the natural air-conditioning forests provide.
Listen to your body: Your body must work much, much harder to run in heat – your heart rate will already be higher as your heart pumps blood to the surface to cool you down. With that in mind, truly pay attention to how you’re feeling and don’t overly exert yourself.
Tip: If temperatures are really getting crazy, shorten your run to account for the extra stress the heat will add.
Protect your skin: The sun’s UV rays can be powerful! Make sure to liberally apply sweat-proof sunscreen and wear a hat or visor. This will help block the sun from hitting your face and eyes directly.
Tip: Look for UV-blocking clothing to add to your protective regimen.
Cool down: Before you go on your run, soak a washcloth in a bowl of water with a few ice cubes and throw it in a cooler or fridge. When you come home, ring out the excess water, give yourself a wipe down and then drape it around your neck. You’ll be feeling cool as a cucumber!
Tip: If you can stand it, a cold shower or ice bath is a proven remedy for post-exercise muscle recovery.