Running In The Heat: How To Survive The Sun

Running in the summer can be just as much as a challenge as running in the winter.

We might prefer sunlight and shorts over mountains of snow and layers upon layers just to keep us warm. But running in the heat brings with it a whole set of other challenges.

But there are tips to running in the heat, including how to survive in that sun that has it feeling like a sauna outside.

Hydrate, hydrate, Hydrate

The most important tip to surviving summer runs is staying hydrated.

Dehydration when running is no joke. In fact, it can be extremely dangerous. Symptoms include fatigue, cramping, dry mouth, headache and a loss of sweat after noticeably sweating.

The body needs water to function, but especially so when running. This is because it plays a major role in keeping the blood (along with oxygen and sodium) flowing to the heart and muscles.

The idea is to remain hydrated to keep everything in balance. Running in the sun and heat means sweating. Sweating means loss of sodium and water.

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Losing just one perfect of weight during a run negatively effects performance by two percent. So keep water on hand in the heat.

At the same token, overhydrating is a whole separate problem. Called hyponatremia, this condition happens when the runner drinks too much water and flushes out the sodium. This can be just as dangerous as dehydration.

Take small sips through the run and use salt tabs, sports nutrition that includes electrolytes or electrolyte drinks during the run.

It’s also important to hydrate before and after the run as well.

Dress The Part

Obviously, runners shouldn’t be wearing layers when running in the heat.

However, when it comes to running under the sun, those with fair or sensitive skin might want to wear a lightweight, moisture-wicking long sleeve shirt to protect their arms. Capris instead of shorts are also another good option to protect the skin.

For those who don’t have sensitivities, think light and airy. This even means moisture-wicking socks that are breathable.

Loose tank tops are ideal for running in the heat but don’t be afraid to join the sports bra squad when it’s really hot out.

Wear a lightweight hat to keep the sun out the eyes, and running sunglasses like Goodr glasses which are a favorite brand among many runners.

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Photo: That Runner Mom

A sweatband is also a good idea.

Keep a change of clothes in the car or gym bag to get out of sweaty, wet clothes. It’s also a good idea to invest in a cooling towel. Squirt some water on it and wrap around the neck during a long run or when finishes.

Lather Up With Sunscreen

On that same note, make sunscreen a best friend.

Even those who like getting a little bronze while on their run need to use sunscreen to protect their skin. No one wants painful sunburn or too much sun which can have negative effects on the skin including the increased risk of sun cancer.

With that said, just make sure to put sunscreen on the shoulders, arms, and face and soak in that vitamin D safely.

Rise Before The Sun

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Another great tip for surviving the summer sun for runs is to beat it. Wake up early and get that run in before the sun rises.

Try running at 10 a.m. on a hot day and the runner will never hit the snooze button when training again.

Before sunrises temperatures are milder and there isn’t that constant beating of the sun. Plus runners get to watch the sunrise and take in all that gorgeous scenery. The run is done and out of the way to be able to enjoy the rest of a summer day.

Similarly, wait until sunset to run for those who aren’t early morning risers. It might be humid and sticky, but at least there aren’t those beaming sunrays.

Don’t Push The Pace

A running friend and I attempted a short run at a local park. It was late morning, hot and humid. We were slow. Extremely slow to the point where I asked to walk twice. Mind you we were pushing strollers with toddlers and I am expecting. But I was surprised to see my super fast friend also struggle with the 2-miles we did.

This is because heat can drastically change pace.

It’s best to forget about pace and just run by the effort put in. We might’ve been running slow, but it felt like we were giving it our all and really working to keep a steady pace. And when we couldn’t take the heat, we slowed to a stroll and drank some water before resuming.

Super hot days aren’t ideal for speed work or testing pace boundaries. Just get out there and enjoy the run pressure free.

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