Baby it’s hot outside! Of course we’re talking about Arizona’s summer heat, which can get into the 100s and when it does, it’s brutal enough to force even the most dedicated runners to move their workouts inside.
As outdoor temperatures and humidity rise, running can actually become dangerous. “Your core body temperature increases in the heat and, as a result, blood and oxygen moves to the skin to try and cool you down,” said Anne Stancil. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even heat stoke can occur if you are not smart about summer running.
It’s not impossible to enjoy a run in the great outdoors even when in the scorching heat. “You just need to be careful and follow some safety guidelines,” said Stancil. “First, adjust your run times to early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit cooler.”
Stancil also suggests the following tips to runners:
Run slower. Heat, especially when combined with humidity, takes a major toll on your ability to run hard. That’s because as your body temperature rises, you start to perspire in an effort to bring it back down. In an arid climate with low humidity, the sweat evaporates, and your body temperature goes down. When it’s humid, however, the sweat clings to your skin because it can’t evaporate with the excess moisture in the air, and so, you stay hot. Your heart rate may rise and your ability to push the pace declines.
To combat heat and sweat, wear proper clothing. Yep, shed the layers and let your skin breathe. Opt for shorts and tank tops (or no tops if you so dare). Make sure your layers are lightweight, light in color and breathable. Also, choose fabrics with sun protection and wear them in combination with sunscreen and sunglasses. Yes, sunscreen is a must.
It also helps to reduce your alcohol consumption and drink more water. We know that a post-run bubbly beer on a hot summer day is pure bliss. However, it can also set you up for major dehydration when you trade H2O for suds. Dehydration not only curbs recovery from the run you just finished, but it also sets you up for a sub-par run the next day. And, did you know that even slight dehydration impairs mental capacity? So, drink more water throughout the summer, so you have better runs, experience enhanced recovery and function optimally at work. Win-win-win.
Make friends with electrolytes. The more you sweat, the more you need. That’s because you’re losing more than water when you sweat. The farther you run, the further you dip into your electrolyte reserve. After a short 30-minute jaunt, you can generally replenish all of your electrolytes with your next meal, but if you go much longer, it’s a good idea to substitute with something that has added electrolytes.
You should also carry hydration and plan your routes based on water availability. Running out of water in the summer can be uncomfortable and downright dangerous. Carry water every time you run, or at the very least take a bottle to stash somewhere along your route (if you’re doing an out and back). It's also a good idea to plan your run according to available water stops so that you can drink from a fountain and refill your bottle or pack.
Forget about it: Sometimes it really is just too warm to run outside. “Don’t risk your health for a run if you can do it at a gym or inside on your treadmill,” said Stancil. “Once that thermometer hits three digits, I would consider other workout alternatives.
Fleet Feet Tucson has the perfect shoes for running and hiking on trails and for every pair of feet. Step into one of their two locations to try on a pair today. For more information, visit FleetFeetTuscon.com or call (520) 886-7800.