In Texas, we have to deal with the summer heat and all of the effects it has on our bodies. And athletes know the struggle oh so well. Running in the heat will decrease your VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake), lower your blood volume and quickly dehydrate you. Plus, when it’s both hot and humid, that humidity will inhibit the ability for your sweat to evaporate.
As the heat hinders our cooling agents and changes our blood flow, we have to be realistic with our sometimes compromised performance. But there are a few things you can do to better your running experience in the heat and keep you safe to avoid heat stroke and other hot weather running risks.
Here’s what you need to know before you lace up for your next run.
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. (And that’s important for your dog, too, if they run with you.)
If you don’t 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 earlier
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 70-100% of fluids lost during your run, and at least 50% 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 pound equals 16 ounces of fluid. If that is too technical for you, a good rule of thumb is to drink 16 to 20 oz. of water every hour, especially on the days you are working outside.
Run safely and be smart
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!
About the author
This content has been written or reviewed by a member of the Baylor Scott & White Health medical staff.
3 thoughts on “4 tips for running safely in the heat”
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Thank you! This heat kicks my rear on a daily basis, and running outside the gym has been toughest for me this summer. Awesome article!