How Runners Can Beat the Heat
During the summer months, the high heat and humidity outside can place runners at an increased risk for heat-related health complications, including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or dehydration. Studies have shown that when there are temperature spikes in the summer, there is also an increase in runners who visit emergency rooms because of these heat-related health complications.
To better protect yourself in the summer heat, while maintaining or improving your conditioning, runners should consider the following safety tips.
- Wear light colored clothing. Lighter colors reflect sunlight better than dark colors and help to keep you cooler when it's hot outside.
- Wear fabrics designed for high intensity physical activity. Sweat-wicking materials, which are made of a high-tech polyester, will move moisture away from your body where it can more easily evaporate on the outside of your clothing and cool you down. Cotton fabrics on the other hand, will hold onto your sweat, causing your clothing to feel heavy and clammy.
- Use sunscreen with a high SPF to help protect your skin from damage from the sun's rays. If you're going for a longer run, bring a small bottle of sunscreen with you and reapply during the run.
- Drink water before going for a run. That water will help to cool you and prevent dehydration on your upcoming run.
- After your workout, try a drink that contains electrolytes, which hydrate your body quicker than just water.
- Bring a drink with you or have a means to hydrate on your run.
- Run with a partner. Even the most experienced runners can run into an issue during a workout, whether it be something like getting lost, or something more serious like heat stroke. A partner can both help to push you on your workout, and help you out if a serious issue does arise.
- Bring your cell phone. If you can't find a partner to run with you, at the very least, bring your cell phone with you. If you do run into an emergency, you'll be able to call for help.
- Give your body time to adapt to the warmer weather. Studies have shown that it takes about two weeks for our bodies to get used to the hotter weather and become better at sweating. When our bodies sweat more, it helps to cool us down so we can run faster and further without issue.
Almost all of these safety tips involve preparing ahead of time to help prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion. It's also important to remember that nobody knows your body like you do. If you start to feel light headed, dizzy, or overheated, don't be afraid to stop, slow down, get something to drink and cool off.