Training in hot weather can be challenging, and without the proper precautions it can be dangerous. But a few easy guidelines can help you beat the heat.
Before stepping out on a hot day, make sure to check the heat index. The heat index combines air temperature and relative humidity to determine how hot it feels. The National Weather Service offers heat index alerts when it becomes dangerous to exercise outdoors.
Your body cools itself with perspiration which evaporates and carries heat away. When the relative humidity is high, the evaporation rate is reduced and heat is removed from the body at a slower rate.
One way to get through those hot and humid days is to avoid them. When the heat index reaches dangerous levels consider taking that well deserved day off.
If avoidance is not an option for you, try running in the early morning or early evening when the heat index is typically lower.
Another option is to do your workout indoors. A climate-controlled indoor track or treadmill can serve as an alternative to running under the scorching sun. However, not everyone has the luxury of an indoor facility so you need to plan accordingly.
Here are a few tips to beat the heat when exercising outdoors:
Wear the Right Clothes
You've probably heard the saying "there's no bad weather just bad clothing." Whether or not it's true, you should always wear temperature-appropriate gear, especially when running in the heat.
Avoid dark colors since they tend to absorb heat rather then reflect it. Find clothing that is made of high performance technical materials. These materials wick or pull moisture away from your body while allowing air to flow through the material. Wicking materials are a great improvement over cotton, which tends to absorb moisture and can contribute to chaffing.
Find a Cool Course
Temperatures tend to be a few degrees cooler in the shade, so look for a running route that offers lots of it. It's also a great excuse to get off-road and do a little cross-country training.
If you are lucky enough to live near the coast, you may want to consider a beach run. Temperatures are cooler along coastal areas, and you can always go for a quick dip to cool down.
Consider looking for an athletic facility that waters their fields with sprinklers. Running through sprinklers serves a dual purpose: It helps keep you cool and makes you feel like you're 12 again.