We have all heard stories about individuals suffering from heat stroke, which in some cases are fatal, because they were not properly hydrated and pushing too much/hard during times of extreme heat. Below are a few tips for running in hot weather:
Take It Easy At First
Yes, it is possible for a human being to run in extreme temperatures and be fine. I mean look at all the people running outside in places like Texas and Arizona.
This may be true, but research has shown that these individuals are acclimated with the temperatures enough that their bodies are used to the heat. (Even then, these individuals still need to take certain precautions.)
Running around in Michigan or Minnesota on a hot 80-90 degree day – your body may not be as used to the temperatures, especially after a long, cold winter.
You may be geared up to hit the pavement because the weather is just SO nice out, but you have to listen to your body.
As you run in extreme heat, your body is working over time trying to cool itself down, which means your heart rate goes up. Because of this, you may be running a bit slower of a pace, but your body is still working just as hard as if you were running a normal pace.
Take it easy.
Hydration Starts Early
In my younger days (and sometimes even now), I have this crazy idea that if I drink water about a half hour before I run, I should be hydrated enough to tackle anything.
I pay for it every single time.
Although you definitely SHOULD be drinking a few glasses of water 30-60 minutes before running, you may also want to be extra conscious of drinking as much water/fluids the days leading up to your longer runs on hotter days. This is just added precaution to make sure that your water reserve is filled up to the max.
And lets be honest, many individuals do not drink enough water/sports drinks throughout the day anyways, so a few more glasses won’t hurt you!
Morning Person / Night Owl
Some people do not have the luxury of deciding when they can run. You may have children that need to be taken places and fed, other engagements that need to be attended, work schedules, yadda yadda yadda.
If this is the case, and running mid-day is the only option, proceed with caution.
For others, if you have the time and motivation, it may be better to move your runs to early in the morning (maybe before work/the kids get up) or at night (after work/kids in bed). The truth is, as much as I love the sun, it isn’t necessarily your friend when you are running in extreme temperatures.
By moving to the morning and night you have the benefit of lower temperatures and the sun not beating down on you.
Word of caution for your barefoot runners out there – if running at night, pay close attention to the temperature of the concrete/asphalt. Just because the sun is no longer at its peak, does not mean the cement has cooled off completely. Hot cement equals possible blisters. Best bet? Run in the morning.
Sound the Horn
You are running around, feeling great, but all of a sudden you get dizzy and pass out. What happens next? Do you just hope you wake up? Hope someone sees you and comes to your aid?
Well, if you are smart, you will make sure that there are a few people that know you are running, what your route is, how long you expect it to take and have the ability to come look for you if for some reason you are not back in time.
This is even more important when you are running in extreme heat (or running alone at night for that matter). I saw more important because to be honest, you should always have someone know about your whereabouts while running in case any “unthinkables” may happen.
Another great tip is to try to keep your cell phone on you. I understand this may not be convenient for some people but I’ll take safety over convenience any day of the week!
“No Heat Stroke” Fashion Statements
Obviously your running “wardrobe” can help you keep your cool while running as well. There are numerous examples of what you can wear.
Aim for lightweight, breathable clothing that will help keep your body cool. However, word of caution, this will probably expose more skin which is bad in the sun burn department, so please make sure to use some “sweat proof” sunscreen which will prevent burns and will help keep you cool as well.
Some others have been known to wear large hats such as this guy, to help keep the body and head cool as well.
Do you have any other suggestions on running in the extreme heat? Have any stories or learning experiences? Any products you might recommend?