In Texas, we have to deal with the summer heat and all of the effects it has on our body. And athletes know the struggle oh so well. Running in the heat will decrease your VO2 Max (maximum oxygen uptake), lower your blood volume, dehydrate you; plus, the humidity will affect sweat evaporation.
As the heat hinders our cooling agents and changes our blood flow, we have to be realistic with our compromised performance. But there are some things you can do to better your running experience in the heat.
1. Change your running route
Most runners have their favorite running route planned out, but sometimes there is a cooler route out there. Look for trails that are shaded, and always choose a grass trail over concrete. Concrete and asphalt retain heat making your run even hotter than it has to be. If you do not like to carry water while you run, try to find a running course that has accessible water fountains. Lastly, if you have a breeze, use it on the back part of your run. You will greatly appreciate the breeze on your last mile, and it will help your body evaporate sweat which cools you off.
2. Wake up early
Set yourself up for success and run before the sun rises. This is a great way to ensure the best outdoor environment during the summer months. If running in the morning sounds like an unrealistic task, try to at least plan your long runs in the morning. That way you can give yourself an advantage on those long miles you have to get in.
3. Dress for the heat
Pick out light-colored outfits that are made of technical fabrics. These fabrics are designed to pull the sweat away from your body and allow it to evaporate more quickly. They also help eliminate chafing. A win-win! However, do not dry technical fabrics in the dryer, because the fabric softener in dryer sheets clogs up the fabrics ability to stay dry and cool during your run.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
This is one of the most important things you can do! Make sure you are rehydrating 70 to 100 percent of fluids lost during your run, and at least 50 percent of fluids lost after your run. Weigh yourself before and after your run to know the amount of fluids you sweat out during your run. This will tell you how much you need to rehydrate. Remember: 1 lb. equals 16 oz. of fluid. If that is too technical for you, a good rule of thumb is to drink 16-20 oz. of water every hour especially on the days you are working outside.
Following these steps will help make your scorching summer run be more enjoyable, but remember to always listen to your body and don’t get overheated. If you ever feel nauseous, dizzy, lightheaded, get goosebumps or chills in the hot weather, or stop sweating when you know you should be, stop exercising and seek emergency medical help. Be smart. Run smart. And most of all, have fun!