If you think running in the cold of winter is bad, you've never gone for a run in the sweltering Texas heat. You can always bundle up if the weather is cold with a heavy scarf over your mouth to protect your lungs. However, when the heat waves of the Southern U.S. roll in, you'd be foolish to do anything more strenuous than lying in a hammock sipping iced tea!
But running waits for no man, and the idea of avoiding running for a few months until the heat dies down just doesn't work for most people. If you're going to run despite the heat, you're going to have to be prepared.
It's one thing to push yourself when the weather is a bit hot, but it's a lot more dangerous if you're trying to run in 80 percent humidity with a 110 degree sun beating down on you. Be smart when you run in the summer heat, and know when it's time to say, "I'll try again tomorrow."
Keep a close eye on the weather, and check the humidity levels. Heat makes you run slower, and it causes your muscles to overheat more easily. Humidity stops you from cooling down via your body's sweating mechanism, so it will slow you down even more. If you run in hot, humid weather, your chances of passing out due to heat stroke are much higher.
Watch for Signs of Problems
Feeling a bit dizzy? Tired before you've run 500 yards? Got a sick feeling in your stomach? Shaking from the chills? See goose bumps breaking out on your skin? Your body suddenly stop sweating?
These are all signs of heat exhaustion, which can lead to fainting and heat stroke if you're not careful. If you notice any of the above signs, stop your run immediately. Check your heart rate monitor, and keep your heart rate at a safe level. If it gets too high, walk until it calms down.
How to Hydrate for Summer Running
Dehydration can be your worst enemy when running in the summer heat, so avoid it by staying hydrated. This doesn't mean gulping a few glasses of water before, during, and after your run, it means drinking lots of water all day long.
You should have a 1-liter bottle with you at all times, and you should drink at least ¼ to ½ of it every hour. This will help to keep you hydrated, and will prevent dehydration when you actually go for your run.
Tip: Mix in some electrolytes (not Gatorade, but a lighter brand) to help keep your body loaded with the minerals you're going to sweat out during your workout.
Fight the Heat
If you can hit the road in the early morning, do it! There's nothing like an early morning run to get your blood pumping and your energy rushing, and it will help you to avoid the midday burn. If you can't get up at 5 a.m., try running in the evening after the sun has gone down, though it may not be as cool as the morning.
Make sure you've got the right clothing for your summer runs. White and light-colored clothing help to reflect the heat, while dark clothing will soak up the heat. Stick with clothing that is light and breathable, and try to find moisture-wicking clothing that dries out quickly.
When running, slow it down a bit. You don't need to win the race or get through your 5-mile run too fast, but slow down to keep your body going. If you can find a sprinkler going, run through it, or cool off at a nearby drinking fountain before you keep running.
If you're going to wear a hat (I hate hats!), make sure it's loose and breathable. Stay away from hats that absorb the sweat, as they'll just cause your brain to overheat.
Summer running is hot and tiring, but it can be great for your calorie-burning. It's better to be safe than sorry, though, so use the above tips to help you run safely despite the burning summer heat.
And if summer running is simply too much for you, then hit the treadmill--it may be sacrilege for some runners, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Andy Peloquin had battled with weight loss issues his whole life. To overcome this, he began studying fitness and is now in the process of becoming a certified professional fitness trainer. He exercise seven days a week and is excited to share his down-to-earth knowledge of exercise and fitness.