I have a very love-hate relationship with running in the heat. On the one hand, it’s a great way to enjoy the day. On the other hand, it can be dangerous.
When an acquaintance of mine pushed himself too hard in a 10k, he wound up in the intensive care unit. Until that moment, I never realized just how important it was to stay safe. There is a lot of literature about running in the heat, but here are the ones that I swear by.
After being buried underneath layers in total darkness, summer runs are a respite. My best memories of running are on hot summer days followed up with a cold shower. It’s the best detox ever.
Wear a visor or mesh cap
This is crucial if you can’t run early or late in the evenings. When the sun is beating down on your face, your body feels much hotter when you run. Regular baseball caps don’t do the trick; they hinder evaporation cooling. Look for visors or tech hats. Lots of races hand out technical mesh cap SWAG in the summer, so it’s an added bonus to the race.
I used to plan my Chicago runs around the lake front water fountains. Boy, I did not realize what a luxury that was until I moved. In New York, I bring ice cold water in a Nathan belt. While it’s important to hydrate, don’t overdo it. Only drink when you actually feel thirsty. If you drink a lot, you’ll just end up feeling too full, and you can also injure yourself.
Wear dark clothes
As any science class teaches you, darker colors absorb more light. In turn, they convert that light into heat. So basically, wearing dark colors mean you’ve just put a portable heater on your body.
Pace based on time
This is a tough one, especially for marathon runners trying to hit paces. I’ve found that running based on how I feel works way better in the heat than keeping up with my Garmin. Usually, I just leave it home in the summer anyway (who needs such an unnecessary tan line?). It sucks seeing slow paces, but when the weather cools, they pick right back up again. And usually, you feel even stronger. Heat builds character!
Be afraid to skip the outdoors
Always check the weather or bring a phone in case of emergencies before trekking out. There are just some days that it’s impossible to run outside. High humidities and boiling heat indexes are just too much to bear. Either take a day off, cross train, or find an indoor track.