For most runners, training through the summer brings it’s fair share of challenges – the heat, humidity and sun to name a few. And while the summer weather may feel blissful after a cold, dark winter, it’s important to remember that summer running requires a few training adjustments.
Today, Traci Magnus is sharing some essential tips for successful running in the humidity. As a realtor for Dunes Properties in Charleston, South Carolina, she knows a thing or two about surviving the heat and humidity! Check out her tips to make the most of your summer training this year.
As a year-round runner, you’re probably well aware of the difficulties that come with training in the summertime. Trying to stay cool and comfortable while the sun’s scorching hot rays are pounding on your back is no easy task, especially when you’re running long distances.
When you live in Charleston, SC or another southern city that’s well known for its humidity, you need to be extra cautious with your running regimen. Heat and humidity together can make for challenging—if not downright dangerous—running conditions if you aren’t accustomed to the climate.
If you’re training for a destination race in a humid climate or moving to a Southern city, taking certain precautions is essential. With the following tips, you can make your summertime training a safer, more enjoyable experience.
7 Essential Tips for Running in a Humid Climate
1. Ease into Your Summer Training
Giving your body time to adjust to a new climate is crucial for coping with the heat and humidity. This adjustment period is known as heat acclimatization, and savvy runners know that taking it slow and steady in the beginning is key to reaping the benefits later.
Although there is still some debate on exactly how long it takes to acclimatize to the heat, some research suggests that the body can begin adapting in as little as two hours. However, earlier research from the 1960s has found that total climate acclimatization takes around 10-14 days.
Give your body enough time to acclimate by running at a slower pace outside. If you want to stick to your normal training regimen, schedule your slower runs outside and keep high-intensity runs indoors in a climate-controlled environment.
2. Accept That You Will Be Slower
For reasons we just mentioned, it’s just a simple fact that you’re not going to set a new PR when you first begin running in the heat and humidity. Although it can be demotivating initially, it’s important to trust your body and listen to what it’s trying to tell you.
As you train in the heat, you’ll soon notice your body becoming much more efficient. You’ll start sweating earlier in your run and more profusely, which is a good indicator that your body is getting better at cooling itself.
Don’t forget to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself over the limits. Know the signs of heat illness and stop immediately if you start experiencing dizziness, nausea, confusion, cramping or fainting.
3. Dress for the Conditions
Your favorite navy-blue cotton T-shirt just isn’t going to cut it in the hot and humid South. The more your body sweats to cool itself, the more important it is to wear moisture-wicking fabrics that allow the sweat to evaporate.
This is especially true when you’re training in the humidity. Humid climates can mess with your body’s sweating process, making it difficult for the sweat to evaporate from the skin. Without moisture-wicking fabrics to wick away your sweat, you’re only making it more difficult for your body to keep itself cool.
Companies such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour each have their own proprietary fabric blends that are designed to help you overcome Mother Nature. Seek out these hard-working fabrics and opt for them in lighter colors (dark colors will absorb the heat).
4. Replenish Lost Fluids
Staying hydrated is important during all times of the year. When running in the heat and humidity, it’s especially critical that you have a hydration strategy in place.
Working out in a humid climate will lead to increased sweating, which means that you’ll naturally lose more liquids. Plan to replenish these liquids with sports drinks containing electrolytes, water and hydrating foods such as cucumber and watermelon. Just be careful to avoid drinking too much; otherwise, you’ll end up cramping and uncomfortable mid-run.
5. Plan Your Route
You wouldn’t head out for a run in the dead of winter without planning your route, right? The same applies to running in the heat and humidity. Try to plan your route where you’re running in as much shade as possible and know where water stations are along the way.
If you live in a coastal city with an abundance of waterways, take advantage of them by scheduling routes alongside them. Running next to cool waters can slightly reduce the temperature and provide an emergency cool down area just in case.
6. Wear a Waterproof Sunscreen
Research has found time and again that athletes who train in the sun are at a greater risk of skin cancer. According to a 2008 study published in Clinical Dermatology, sweating may increase the risk of UV damage by making the skin more sensitive to the sun.
The increased sweating from the heat and humidity can also make your sunscreen wear off faster than normal. For this reason, it’s incredibly important that you wear a water-resistant sunscreen for your outdoor runs and reapply as needed.
Also, keep in mind that a high SPF (i.e., SPF 100) isn’t all that much better than SPF 50. While SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of rays, SPF 100 blocks 99 percent—only a one percent difference. Always reapply your sunscreen every two hours and apply it at least 30 minutes before heading out on your run.
7. Join a Local Running Club
If you’re moving to a southern state, check out the running clubs in your local community. Running groups not only provide an additional layer of safety for running in hot weather conditions, they can also offer support and guidance.
While every running group is bound to have some transplants, you’ll also connect with plenty of locals who have years—if not decades—of experience running in the hot and humid South. Lean on them for guidance on how to beat the heat, where to shop for hot weather running gear and the best local waterways to beat the heat.
Prioritize Your Safety for Better Running Performance
Adjusting to the heat and humidity isn’t easy when you’re accustomed to running in a colder climate. Just remember to take things slow and give your body time to perform in a new environment. With these tips, you can put your safety and comfort level first while maximizing your running performance.
Traci Magnus is a realtor for Dunes Properties located in Charleston, SC. When she’s not selling houses or writing, you can find her researching the latest trends in housing development or exploring downtown Charleston with her husband, Glenn.