How to Run in the Heat Safely

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May 31, 2016

Here in Vermont, heat isn’t usually a big issue for me when I exercise. Even the high temperatures tend to be right around the mid-eighties. For the past few years, temperatures have started reaching into the 90s during the summer, and I’m noticing that it impacts my fitness routine. Running or walking when the temperature is 75 versus 95 are two entirely different things. There are health and safety tips that you need to be aware of when the temperatures rise. Today I’m sharing a few tips that will show you how to run in the heat safely.

How to Run in the Heat Safely

Of course, it’s always best to try to run or walk in the cooler parts of the day. I take my first walk about 7:00 AM and the temperatures are usually perfect in the summer for a relatively fast paced walk with a few short sprints. I have asthma so humidity can impact how I breathe and that can be a problem in the summer. My second walk is usually late afternoon and depending on the day; the heat can be a factor. I try to remember these tips:

  • Drink enough water – As the temperatures rise, it’s important to be drink enough water. We lose extra fluids when we perspire, but the heat also makes it feel like you’re exercising much harder than you are. Don’t just drink extra water while you exercise–you’ll want to drink H2O before and after as well. It may help you to schedule and track your water consumption throughout the day to be sure you’re drinking enough.
  • Start slowly – Make your first few runs in the heat are shorter than your standard length to get used to the impact the heat will have on your body. You can extend the length as the summer goes on. Avoid the hottest times of the day whenever possible.
  • Choose the right clothing – Dress in lighter colored clothing when you run in the heat. You’ll want to avoid black and navy clothes during the heat of the summer and instead, choose lighter colors. Keep covered to prevent sunburn but choose looser clothing to allow the air to circulate and keep your body cooler. Remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses with you on your run.
  • Try intervals – Instead of a solid run, try a run alternating with breaks of walking in between. The change in pace may be enough for your body to cool down and get used to the extra heat. I tend to break about every 6 minutes, but any interval from 4 to 8 minutes works in the heat.
  • Listen to your body – Even the most experienced athlete can overheat. It’s critical that you listen to your body and to be aware of the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps.

Following these tips will help you run safely even during the summer months.

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