With summer running in full effect, things are going to get a little complicated. What once felt like an easy pace can now feel like you are running in mud thanks to high temps and humidity.
Plain and simple: Summer running is hard.
It can make it feel like you need gills rather than lungs. If you are doing heart rate training, good luck. The higher the temp, the higher your heart rate will be because your whole cardiovascular system has to work extra hard.
If you don't like the heat or humidity, you don't need to retreat into air conditioning for the next few months. There are plenty of things to do to make running in the sweltering summer heat a little bit more comfortable. And if you do have to hit the treadmill, no biggie. The most important thing is you do what works best for you.
Run EarlyMorning temperatures are usually the coolest during the summer. So setting off for your run early will give you a break from the strongest hours of sunlight. The humidity can sometimes be high, but at least you won't have the blazing sun beating down on your back. Plus, you may even get the treat of a gorgeous sunrise.
Run LateIf you aren't a morning person, wait until the late evening when the sun is starting to set. The temps will be better than during the day, and the humidity may dip, too. Just like running early, you'll probably get the treat of a gorgeous sunset.
Less Is BestWear as little clothing as legally possible. If you are a sports bra-only kind of person, do that. Stick to light colored, loose, wicking material. Now is not the time for black or cotton. No matter what fabric you're wearing, Body Glide can be a life saver for keeping chafing at bay.
Wear a Hat or Visor and SunscreenA hat or visor will not only protect your skin from the sun, but it will also help to keep your face cool. Soaking the hat or visor in cold water before heading out the door can help to lower body temp and keep you cooler. Sticking ice cubes in your hat works just as well. And always use sunscreen on all exposed skin, even if you think your hat will provide enough shade on your face, because no one wants to get skin cancer.
Slow DownYour body has to work extra hard in the heat and humidity running at a "normal" pace. When you try to pick up the pace, this is even more the case. Run for time and effort rather than distance and pace.
Start Slow and End SlowYou should always warm up before any run (try one of these dynamic warm ups!), but it's even more important when the temperatures are high. You want to gradually increase your heart rate rather than starting out too fast. The same goes for the end of the run. Do a gradual slowdown that includes some time for walking. It will help regulate your heart rate and cool your body a bit before you completely wrap up.
Do a Group RunJust like running on frigid cold mornings in January, having friends to commiserate with while you slog through the heat and humidity makes it more tolerable. If you are joining a larger group, there's high probability that water, Gatorade or fuel will be out on the route. You won't have to worry about having enough water.
Hit the TrailsWhen the temperatures rise, asphalt and concrete absorb heat and radiate it back into your face. Trail running usually offers shade from trees unless you're above the tree line. It also forces you to slow down. There's an added bonus if the trail has a refreshing lake or river for you to hop into after you finish.
Drink UpIf you are running more than 75 to 90 minutes, carry a hand-held water bottle or a hydration pack. Or think about stashing water bottles along your intended route ahead of time if you don't like carrying anything in your hands. Planning your route along accessible drinking fountains is another solid option.
Don't RunWe know this sounds crazy, but sometimes the heat and humidity just aren't runner friendly. Opt for cross training or even taking a rest day if the temps get to be too much. Maybe it's time to give pool running a shot?
Most of all, have fun and enjoy yourself, but use common sense. Most of the country only get this weather for a few short months out of the year. Before you know it, you'll be complaining about it being too cold, so appreciate the weather and sunshine while you can.
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