Jason Devaney shares his ideas on how to stay safe when you’re out running in the heat.
With summer fast approaching, runners everywhere can rejoice. Gone are the cold, rainy days of early spring and here are the long days of sun and warmth.
Working out when it’s nice outside is one of my favorite things to do. Everything is in bloom, I get to wear my sweatband, and my lungs don’t burn because of the cold air I sucked in all winter.
But be careful what you wish for.
Running can be dangerous when the needle on your outdoor thermometer is buried. Hydrating before, during, and after a run is super important. So is staying as cool as possible, while at the same time making sure you’re protected from the sun. And, of course, always bring identification and a few bucks in case you get into trouble. A phone helps, too.
Here are five tips to remember while running in the heat.
Hydration is never more important than during a hot summer run. Your body heats up as you work out, and some people can lose five or 10 pounds of sweat during a long run. You can do one of three things: Drive your running route ahead of time and stash some water and sports drink in various spots, bring a fuel belt, or leave cold drinks at your house and run a loop past it every few miles so you can drink up.
2. Dress Lightly
Now is clearly not the time of year to be wearing running pants or heavy base layers. A pair of light, breathable running shorts, along with a top made of a wicking material, is all you need. Throw on a hat and sunglasses to protect your scalp and face from the sun, and wear sunscreen—particularly on your nose, arms, neck, and legs (the back of my calves always burn). If you’re wearing a tank top, be sure to get your shoulders.
3. Be Prepared
You should be prepared for every run, whether it’s 20 degrees and snowing, 85 and sunny and everything in between. Being prepared means bringing identification (try a Road ID), cash and/or a credit card and a phone. You never know what can happen out there. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious … if you start to feel ill, call for help or flag down a motorist.
4. Cool Down
When you return home from your summer run, you’re most likely drenched with sweat and feeling overheated. Grab a drink of cold water and hop in the shower. Turn the water as cold as you can stand it and let your body cool down. Or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, give yourself an ice bath and bring your body temperature down to a normal level again.
5. Ease Into It
After months of running in colder temperatures your body won’t be used to pounding out 15 miles in the hot summer sun. So don’t jump right into it. If you have a long run scheduled and the forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s, head out before sunrise when it’s not as warm. Or wait until the evening. Try to run along shady paths as much as possible. After a few weeks your body will adapt—but don’t become complacent. If it’s too hot or if you’re not prepared, it’s better to wait a day than to to go put yourself in potential danger.
Got a summer running tip? Tweet me @jason_devaney1.