Summer Running Tips: Staying Smart & Safe

Who doesn't love summer? Summertime is a time for family gatherings and parties, but ask any runner and they'll tell you summer is the time when normally quick 5 mile runs turn into sweaty, hallucinogenic death marches where one feels like they are going to melt into the road. I am reminded of this just today, as my 6 miler felt like a one way trip to the sun. At one time or another the majority of runners across the country know what I am talking about. Of course, if you are in Alaska this is the one time we envy the crap out of you.

"It's so damn hot." Picture Source: Lessoncast.org


For those of you new to summer running, I wanted to put together a few tips of how to navigate your runs during the hottest time of the year. While these are good, make sure to adjust your runs that best fit your style of running and to always consult a doctor if you aren't feeling well.

1. Understand the Weather: Is it hot, humid, both? You need to understand just what you are dealing with before heading out. While the temperature is a good indicator how the outside will be, you need to take a look at the humidity. Humidity measures moisture in the air, so basically if the humidity is high (lot of moisture in the air) it will be tougher for your body to release sweat, trapping in body heat. Therefore, it's best to look at the heat index which calculates the temperature and the humidity so you can plan accordingly.

Also, look to run early in the morning or evening when the sun isn't so hot. 

Check the Temp, Humidity & Heat Index
2. Clothing: While layering is best during the winter, summer is the time to shed the clothes. Remember, when running it'll feel relatively 20 degrees hotter than it really is, so make sure your clothing accounts for it. Wear thin, light colored, wicking clothing to move the moisture away from your body and keep you comfortable. If it's sunny out, wear a runner's hat and sun glasses to protect your head and eyes. They may take some time to get used to, but definitely worth it.

       

3. Accessories: I already mentioned the hat and glasses, but also it's good to run with a water bottle. Hydration is always key, but during the summer it's extra important. Various running companies have designed runner-friendly water containment devices that are easy to carry on long runs. Find one that works for you.
                           

4. Sun Protection: Protecting your skin is important, especially on long runs, so use sunblock to keep you from burning. I use at least SPF 30 that's designed for activity so you won't sweat it off.

                             

5. Know When to Say When: Just like you know when you've had enough July 4th punch, you need to make sure you are using common sense when to stop running. Heatstroke is an all too often occurrence with runners who just want to get in that last mile. Some symptoms are getting lightheaded, dizziness, nausea, confusion and lack of sweat (your body is running out of moisture). If any of these happen, you may be experiencing heat-related illness and should stop immediately. These are not the only symptoms so make sure to do more research on the matter so you can be smart about running.

The other issue to look out for is water intoxication (hyponatremia), or ingesting more water than your body can handle which alters the blood-sodium mix in your body. This is a very real concern so make sure to test your water intake on runs to see what works best for you.

As mentioned above, these tips should not take take the place of a doctor's recommendation or research you do on your own. Rather, these are just a few tips that I have found useful in my summer running and I wanted to share. I hope you all have a great summer and get in some safe quality miles.

Happy summer running!