It's hot. And what's worse, it's humid. That combination can zap not only your will when it comes to summer runs, but also your performance and, if you're not prepared, your health.
When it's hot, your body has to work harder to cool itself. And when it's humid, no amount of work will really do the trick since your sweat can't evaporate, ultimately leading to dehydration if you're not careful. Still, that doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel or hit the treadmill all summer.
Running in the heat can actually have benefits once you get over the initial slump. If you can slog it out for 1-2 weeks, your body will ultimately get better at cooling itself, retaining precious electrolytes and increasing bloodflow.
Here are some tips to help you beat the heat.
1. Adjust your pace.
Even in 60-degree temps, the "heat" will slow an elite runner down by nearly 2%, according to the Run SMART Project calculator. The American Running and Fitness Association recommends that you begin by cutting your intensity by 65-75% and then slowly work your way back up.
> Try this: MapMyRun. Set and track your pace with the help of this app — and so much more. From tailored and customizable workout routines to suggested nearby and personal favorite routes to goal-setting and challenges, this app will help you go farther than you thought you could, safely.
Pre-hydrating is key here. Once you begin to sweat, your body will lose electrolytes until you build up your heat tolerance. Drink 16 ounces of water two hours before setting out. If you're heading out for under an hour, take water; otherwise, take water and a sports drink.
> Try this: Nathan TrailMix Plus 2. Equipped with two insulated 10-ounce bottles, this belt keeps hydration close at hand, and it's ergonomically designed for quick, single-handed grabs out of the bounce-free holster. Need to take keys, phone or energy gels? There are dedicated spaces for those things too.
To make sure you're hydrating properly, weigh yourself before and after running. Each pound lost equals 16 ounces of fluid needed.
3. Keep electrolytes and calories separate.
Since your blood will primarily be busy trying to help your body cool itself at the surface, there won't be much to help with digestion.
> Try this: Skratch Labs Wellness Hydration Mix. Made using high-quality electrolytes, real fruit and zinc in place of artificial sweeteners, coloring agents or emulsifiers, this drink mix will replenish you without weighing you down in any way.
4. Wear breathable, moisture-wicking clothing.
Opt for light colors to help reflect the sun's rays and performance materials to help keep you cool and comfortable.
> Try this: Patagonia Airchaser shirt. With mesh across the back and shoulders and Capilene Cool Lightweight fabric in front, this top-rated shirt goes the distance in helping to dissipate heat and sweat. Other details like taped shoulder seams and a tagless neck make it an all-around home run.
5. Hit the trails.
Asphalt and concrete radiate heat, and typically don't offer much help in the form of shady trees. Besides being cooler, trails will naturally slow your pace so the rest of your body can keep up, while still offering a challenge for those conditioned to the road.
> Try this: Salomon Sense Ride 3. These ultra-cushioned trail runners will grip everything in your path without letting you get tripped up by the terrain thanks to a protective rock plate, internal foot-hugging sleeve and quick-pull Kevlar laces.