This Girl is on Fire … Beat the Heat

Summer is here and that means the temperatures and humidity levels are beginning to soar, especially down in southern VA.   Ninety-degree days with humidity can easily deter you from going on that run. Don’t let the heat put a stop to what you love.

What makes the heat harmful? Exercise of any sort outside is allowing your body to experience heat loss through sweat and homeostasis (the internal cool-down process, aka your bodies air conditioning). Every runner is different, some can sweat it out all day in the heat, while others (like moi) prefer the colder temps during a run. Knowing your limits and knowing when to stop are very important. It is okay to stop if you aren’t feeling it. (Treadmills were invented for hot days!)  If at any point during a run you feel like you are going to be sick, feel dizzy, extreme weakness, nausea, unstable, confused, have a headache, or goose bumps, please stop. You could be experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Here are a few tips to beat the heat:

  • Stay hydrated. This can’t be said enough. Whether it is hot out or not, water should be part of your daily routine. WATER H2O AGUA EAU WASSER ACQUA whatever you call it, drink it!  Not only should you drink it during and after your run, but you should be hydrating prior to the run as well.
  • Eat hydrating foods.  A lot of foods act as hydration sources.  Melons, berries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, watermelon, and lettuce are all made of 90%+ water.  Cantaloupe contains 90% water and is a great source of potassium which helps balance fluids and electrolyte levels as well as aiding in post-workout recovery.  Cucumbers contain 90%+ water and the outer skin contains silica which promotes elasticity in joints and skin.  All of these foods are fresh, healthy, and refreshing especially after a long run.
  • Wear sunglasses.  Straining your eyes and squinting cause your face muscles to tense, which will add in fatigue and possibly cause headaches (for me at least).  Eyes, just like skin, can also become sunburned, although the effects may not be as noticeable.  My little sister plays softball and ever since I can remember she has come home from every tournament with sunburnt eyes.  Seriously.  If you pull her eyelids apart, there will be a red stripe where her eyes were open, the part of her eye covered by the lids will be white.  It’s the craziest thing.
  • Wear a hat or visor.  This will aid in protecting your eyes and preventing your face from being sunburnt.  Runners are outside all the time.  Constant sun exposure may have bad longterm effects.  If something as simple as a hat can help, I’m going to wear one.  Plus it helps keep loose hair from flying in your face and sticking to your neck.  I have waist-length hair and trying to tame it on a run can be quite troublesome.
  • Wear loose and light-colored clothing, preferably moisture-wicking. Don’t make yourself more miserable by wearing something tight.  It will eventually be dampened with sweat and sticking to you.  Heat, humidity, tight clothes, and sweat only lead to one thing… CHAFFING.  I think we can all agree that this is one aspect of running that is awful and if preventable, should definitely be prevented.  If at all possible, DON”T WEAR COTTON!!!
  • Wear sunscreen.  This is a no-brainer.  If you want to go out running at all during the rest of the week, do yourself a favor and just spray some SPF on.
  • Adjust your run.  If at all possible, run a little earlier or run a little later.  Avoid mid-afternoon runs when the sun is at its peak and the temperatures are at their highest.  I prefer early morning runs on the weekends and later evening runs during the weekdays.  I also try to run trails during the summer.  The trees offer great shade and being by the water, I can usually count on a breeze.  If morning or evening runs are out of the question or it’s just way to humid, forget your pride, and just go find a treadmill.  You’ll live. And honestly, although boredom might ensue, you’ll be a lot more comfortable.
  • Know your limits.  Adjust your pace.  Slow it down by a minute or so, it’ll help you achieve the distances without completely knocking you out.  Know when you should call it quits.  It’s hot, no one’s judging.

Hope these hot weather tips help!  Every runner is different so find what adjustments and what tools suit you best.  Stay safe and keep on running…

What ways do you “beat the heat” during the summer months?  Have any tips I missed?  Have a favorite way to hydrate?  Nuun? GU Brew? Anyone use the chill towels?

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