Summer Running: Tips for Adjusting to the Heat

Discussion in 'Physiology' started by Egyptian Doctor, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

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    In the last few months I have been slowly getting back into running. Living in Mississippi, it gets HOT in the summer. June can seem hot, but July and August in the Deep South are typically brutal times for outdoor activity or fitness. With many years of dealing with heat and humidity under my belt, I have put together a list of things to keep in mind when transitioning into summer running.


    Prepare. In the summer it is more difficult to just get up, put on your shoes, and hit the road. The heat can cause you to sweat more than normal, and reduce your energy very quickly. A tip you read over and over is to make sure you hydrate during your run. My suggestion is that you hydrate before you run, building in extra water for the day before you run. Those that run four or more times a week likely drink a lot of water anyway, but they should increase the amount they drink during the summer to help keep their body prepared to run.

    Wear a visor, not a cap. Remember what your Mom used to tell you in Winter? "Make sure you wear a hat; all your body heat escapes through your head." Mom was right, but that does not just apply to cold. In my running I find that a cap can hold in heat during my summer runs. A visor lets the heat escape, lets my hair and scalp get air, and can help in keeping a little cooler.

    Start slow and build up. A runner that is accustomed to running in a cooler climate would likely struggle to come to the humidity of Mississippi and run. The same is true for someone leaving Mississippi and running in Arizona. The heat is different in different parts of the country. Runners need to reduce their time and distance expectations and slowly build back up to their norm. For me that build-up is typically a seven to ten day period.

    Be flexible. Heat takes a toll on the body, and some days it can affect you differently than others. Runners need to listen to their bodies and to the environment. If it feels like your energy is being zapped more quickly than usual, slow down. I find that slowing my pace by 30 to 45 seconds per mile can really make a big difference and reduce the stress on my body. Also, be willing to change your schedule. Running early in the morning or late in the evening is worth considering during those dog days of summer.

    HAVE FUN. This is the most important tip of all. When you relax and enjoy your run the results will be better regardless of the temperature, pace, or distance covered. If you are getting hot, worrying about your pace, and frustrated with your progress - or lack of it - the result will often be a bad run. Let those things go and just enjoy the natural cleansing the heat is providing for you every now and then.

    Running is certainly an individual pursuit, and each runner has his or her own process that they go through. For me, running in the heat of summer is unavoidable, but taking the steps outlined above help me to keep my passion for running during the Mississippi summer. Coming back after a long layoff has only confirmed the importance of thinking ahead, planning my run apparel, and controlling my pace so that I can enjoy every run. I hope you are able to do the same.

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