The Safe Way to Run In the Heat of Summer
While running marathons may not be for everyone, running or jogging remains a favorite pastime for more than 25 million Americans. Each year the country hosts over 570 marathons, inspiring hundreds of thousands of hopeful runners to get out there and pound the pavement in an attempt to train.
During marathon training, the average runner will cover more than 40 miles each week. Despite the fact that running may seem pretty straight forward, it can prove deadly if not done correctly, especially when running in the heat.
Dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are 3 common, yet serious, conditions that can occur quickly. Whether running is your pastime passion or you are gearing up to take the lead in the next marathon, here are some health tips to running in hot weather.
Tips for hot weather running
- When running outside, avoid direct sunlight. Always run in the shade and avoid running on blacktop when possible. Running on any dark surface in direct sunlight is the equivalent of about 1000 watts of heat. For comparison, that is the same as a hair dryer on full blast. The darker the surface the more energy or heat will be added to an already hot day.
- When running a route, plan it so you are able to refill your water bottle along the way.
- For runs shorter than 45 minutes, water is fine but for longer runs it is better to consume a cup of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to refuel your muscles and maintain electrolyte levels.
- New runners should run by effort rather than their typical pace.
- In the heat, add power walks every 4 to 8 minutes as a way to take a break from running. This will allow you time to cool down.
- Stop running if you suddenly experience feelings of dizziness, nausea, or chills or if you stop sweating.
- Runners of all ages should never run in peak sunlight hours. Instead, run early in the morning or late in the day.
- Runners should always wear light colored synthetic clothing that is breathable to wick away moisture.
- People with known cardiac or respiratory conditions should discuss running with their doctor before taking up the activity.
Chris Kostman, chief adventure officer of Adventure CORPS and race director for the Badwater Ultramarathon says, “a huge part of being fit is being heat tolerant.” He suggests people running in the heat remember that direct sun will cause your skin to burn. Sunburned skin loses its ability to sweat and cool properly.
Runners are best wearing loose-fitting shirts, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to avoid constant squinting which will only give you a headache. Kostman also suggests, when it’s too hot to run outside, run in the pool. “It’s a great way to sneak in some extra mileage and switch up your routine without overheating.”