Finally: signs of spring!
And before long, many of the runners that were complaining about the winter that wouldn’t end will be complaining about the oppressive heat and humidity that summer often brings with it.
In many cases, the common refrain about running in the summer months is to make sure that you’re staying hydrated.
And yes, drinking plenty of water is important. But it’s hardly the only thing we should be doing to make sure we’re staying safe while battling the heat and humidity this summer.
Five Tips For Handling Heat and Humidity
If you’re going to be battling heat and humidity at some point this summer, I feel for you.
I live in Central Florida, so I run in unrelenting heat and humidity for the better part of eight months.
Although it’s far from ideal, running in the heat sure beats running on the treadmill as far as I’m concerned.
So whether you have just a few weeks of brutal temps or you have as much summer as I do, here are a few tips to add to your arsenal for running in the heat this year.
Replace Your Electrolytes
When you’re sweating, not only is your body losing water, but it’s also losing electrolytes.
Keep your body stoked up on the various salts you sweat out.
The simple solution is to drink some type of sports drink that contains electrolytes to help replace what you’re sweating out, but there is more to the equation than this.
Adding a little extra sea salt to your food isn’t a bad idea either, and is actually something that I do on a very regular basis.
Whether you’re a heavy sweater or not, and whether you’re a salty sweater or not, make sure you replace your electrolytes in the summer months.
Running in the heat and humidity of the summer months is asking a lot from your body.
Not only are you pushing yourself athletically, but you’re also testing your body’s ability to cool itself in less than ideal conditions.
If you get too caught up in maintaining a certain pace, especially for your easy/recovery runs, you may be working much harder than you realize.
In order to keep my easy runs easy, I typically have to run one or two minutes per mile slower than I do in cooler months.
Believe me, this isn’t easy on the ego! Running “slow” can get frustrating, but in the summer, it’s simply what we need to do.
And don’t worry, just because you’re running slower than usual doesn’t mean you’re going to lose a lot of your hard-earned fitness.
I promise, when the weather cools off in the fall, you’ll be surprised how easy it feels running at a faster pace again.
Pushing yourself physically in the heat and humidity of the summer is tough.
In order to get the most of your training and reduce the risk of breaking down, eating as much healthy food as possible is important.
Take advantage of the farmers’ markets and roadside stands that offer fresh, local, and seasonal produce available in most areas this time of year. (Not sure of what options are available to you? Check out LocalHarvest.org for a list of farmers near you.)
At first glance, this may seem a bit ridiculous.
On a list of tips for successfully running in the summer, I’m telling you to run less?
Many runners would benefit from adding a bit more cross-training to their routines, and in the summer cross-training options are plentiful!
Take the kids to the trails for some hiking. Splash around in the pool or the lake. Get some miles on the bike.
Each of these activities, and dozens of others, will help you build/maintain your running fitness.
Not only that, but you’ll be working different muscle groups than the ones that you use for running.
Timing is Everything
If you’re going to continue logging miles this summer, one of the easiest ways to beat the heat and humidity is to avoid running during the hottest parts of the day.
This is common sense, but it still bears mentioning.
Running in the afternoon/evening is always going to be much hotter than running pre-dawn or nearer to sunset.
Yes, this may mean you need to vary your regular training routine, especially if you’re typically an after-work runner.
It might still be hot as blazes at five o’clock in the morning, but it’s a bit more comfortable than doing the same workout after the sun comes up and things really start heating up.
Summer Training Pays Off
Training through the heat and humidity of the summer isn’t always pleasant, but it’s worth it.
If you have a goal race scheduled for the fall, intelligent training through the summer months can help you nail your goals when the weather cools in a few months.
Have a good summer, and trust that the work you’re doing now will pay big dividends soon!