It's summer throughout the United States. Vacations, BBQs, longer days --- at least the longer days remain during COVID. Another thing that is still true during COVID is the challenge of running in the heat and humidity during summer.
Based in Georgia, we have learned a few things about running in the heat and humidity over the years. Here are few helpful tips to get you through the season.
Consider avoiding the hottest part of the day by running early morning or in the evening. Often it is still humid during these times, but the air temperature is lower. Or, consider running inside on a treadmill if you have access.
If you have to run outside during the day, the following tips will help.
Prepare BEFORE your Run
You will sweat significantly more while running in the heat and humidity. It's important to hydrate before you begin your run so that you body has ample water to facilitate sweating. Once you begin running, it is too late to "catch-up". The necessary drink rate to hydrate and replenish sweat loss will be more than your stomach can comfortably handle. Prepare before you head out the door.
Pay Attention DURING your Run
Summer running in high heat and humidity is no time to be "tough" and avoid drinking fluids. Your sweat rate will be much higher in the heat and humidity. Try to consume fluids every 15-20 minutes. Consume what you body and stomach can comfortably handle. Overtime, you will find the right amount. For many of us, 20-30 ounces an hour is a good target to aim for.
What you drink is also important. Alternate between water and a drink with electrolytes such as a sports drink. It's critical to replenish key electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium to avoid muscle cramps.
Style and Function
Wear a hat. Keeping sun off your face will help keep your overall body cooler. A hat will also help deter sweat from dripping down your face creating irritated eyes and other minor annoyances while running.
Wear sunscreen. Protect your body from the dangers of sun damage. As a runner, you are spending a lot of time outside in the sun --- perhaps more than the average adult. It's important to always wear an SPF sunscreen during outdoor runs --- even more so important in the summer when the sun rays are more intense with damaging ultraviolet light.
Apply sunscreen 10-15 minutes before you run to make sure it is fully applied. There's a lot choices on format (spray, lotion, paste, stick) and SPF level. Pick what works for you and get out there.
Overall, be safe. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real concerns in the summertime. If you are running and stop sweating --- that's a problem, not a sign of fitness. If your body is not sweating, it cannot cool itself off and overheating will quickly follow.
Stay safe and enjoy the summer! Best wishes chasing your running goals.