We have been having some abnormally warm weather here in Michigan lately. The majority of the days these past few weeks have seen temperatures in the 80s with sunny skies. After a winter filled with sub-zero temperatures and lengthy snow storms, running in the heat feels incredibly different. Exposing my skin to sunshine after such a long winter makes it feel like it’s on fire. Not to mention how suffocating the hot, humid air feels after months of cold, dry running.
Even so, a new season brings so much excitement. The change in scenery and weather is literally a breath of fresh air. Running motivation increases as we excitedly head outdoors to experience the new weather. This year’s transition from spring to summer running has been no different, as I’ve found myself eagerly awaiting the arrival of summer running season.
Despite my excitement, the transition to hot summer runs brings many new challenges.
With each change in season, I am reminded of our body’s incredible ability to adapt to the climate. For the first few weeks I am always especially aware of the change in weather. Running in the heat for the first time after nearly 6 months feels so impossible that it’s hard to believe I’ve ever done it before.
The biggest challenge of the year has finally arrived: running in the heat.
As warm weather running quickly approaches, I am reflecting on the past summer running seasons. Each spring, when the first hot weather run arrives, I find myself doubting my abilities to continue on in the heat. Despite this initial feeling, I have always been able to power through – eventually adapting to running in the heat as I’m able to stay cool on summer runs.
Hot weather running doesn’t have to be miserable. There are actually quite a few ways to beat the heat and safely continue with those hot summer runs. Here are 8 simple tips to make running through the heat more bearable, and even – dare I say it – enjoyable.
8 Tips to Make Running in the Heat Easier
Wear loose fitting clothing
Nothing makes you sweat more than having something constantly touch your skin. Opt for loose fitting tank tops and shorts on those hot summer runs. Loose fitting clothing allows for some air to get in and cool your body down as it sweats.
Wear a visor
The sun can quickly increase your body temperature. There’s a big difference between cloudy and sunny runs in the summer. If you find yourself heading out for a summer run when the sun is shining – throw on a visor. Blocking the sun from your face not only keeps your skin cool, but it also prevents any sun damage to your skin.
This visor has been with me during summer running for the past 5 years! It makes a big difference when I am running through the heat and sun.
Fuel with grapes (or something else with liquid)
This is the best mid run snack I’ve ever tried! It sounds pretty strange since it’s so different from the standard running fuel, but grapes make a huge difference (especially in hot weather). I tried them once when I was training for my first half marathon (since I had no idea what kind of running fuel to take on my run) and they were so satisfying. If you freeze them before you take them it is even better. Grapes are so juicy, which makes them perfect for those times you are hot and thirsty!
Fill half your water bottle with ice
There is a specific way to do this. The night before your run, fill your water bottle halfway full, and then place it on its side in the freezer overnight. Before your run, take the water bottle out of the freezer and fill the other half with water.
This is honestly the best summer running tip I’ve ever discovered! Your water bottle will be half full of ice when you head out for your run. Placing the water bottle in the freezer on its side causes the water to freeze on just one side of the water bottle, which leaves room for you to fill up the other side with water. The ice cools down the entire water bottle as it melts – not just the bottom. The heat will melt the ice while you run but the water will stay colder so much longer!
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Also… bring water to drink AND extra to pour on your head!
Having an extra water bottle (even just warm water) with you to pour on your head provides instant relief. If the sun is shining, no doubt the top of your head is generating a lot of heat. Pouring water on your head, no matter how warm the water, will cool you down immediately. When you keep running, the water on your head will continue to cool you down as it dries.
Wear light colored clothing
I’ve made the mistake of wearing black or navy blue when running through the heat and sun and will never do it again. Yikes! Those colors absorb the heat and sunshine to make you feel like you’re melting. Opt for light colored articles of clothing that won’t absorb any extra heat while you’re running.
Not only does sunblock prevent any sun damage, but it also helps keep your skin cool in the sun. No matter how protected you think you are – i.e. if it’s cloudy, you think you’re running through shade, or you’re wearing a visor – those damaging rays still manage to get through. You don’t realize how exposed you are when you are out there! Play it safe by applying some sunblock before any summer run.
For a long time, I was so opposed to wearing sunblock simply because it took forever to rub in and made my skin feel greasy. This sunblock stick makes applying sunblock during summer running season SO much easier!
Complete your warm ups or a pre run walk outside
Leaving an air conditioned house to head outside and immediately start your run only amplifies the temperature change. The air outside suddenly feels 10 times hotter because you’ve been sitting inside all morning. Give your body some time to get acclimated to the temperature change by completing your pre run warm ups outside in your driveway. If you don’t have a warm up routine, go for a short walk outside before you begin running in the heat.
Running in the heat may feel miserable in the beginning of the summer, but give your body some time and it will adjust. Remind yourself of all of the added benefits that summer running brings: it takes less time to get ready, you don’t have to layer up, the sidewalks are clear, you get a boost of vitamin D, and burn extra calories while you sweat. These simple tips for warm weather running are only the beginning! Experiment throughout your hot weather runs to discover what works best for your body. Summer running season is prime training time for fall races, so don’t hibernate indoors. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine!