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Summer Running Guide: What to Do & What to Avoid

Summer running season brings with it many challenges: the heat, humidity and sunshine to name a few. After a long winter, the thought of running in the heat might sound wonderful – until you’re in the thick of summer running with higher heart rates and slower paces.

How do you keep running in summer?

Staying consistent with your summer running is key for long term success. As the seasons change and the heat index rises, you’ll need to allow your body plenty of time to acclimate. Adjust your expectations, run based on feel, and add in a lengthy warm up.

In addition, invest in a few pieces of hot weather running gear. Find proper running shoes that fit correctly and allow your feet to breathe. Adding water bottles or hydration belts, visors, sweat wicking fabrics, sunglasses and sunscreen to your gear can all do wonders to help you stay cool.

When is it too hot for summer running?

Each person has their own limits when it comes to running in the heat, but there does come a point where it is advantageous to move your run indoors.

When determining whether or not it’s safe to run outside in the heat, the decision should be based on the real feel, not the actual temperature. Sunshine and humidity both play a large role in how the heat affects the body. When humidity is high, sweat is unable to evaporate and the body can no longer cool itself.

According to the Road Runner’s Club of America, running outside should be avoided in temperatures above 98.6 Fahrenheit, with humidity above 70-80%.

Dangers of Summer Running in the Heat

Summer running presents many dangers, and runners should be aware of warning signs that are indicators that it’s time to stop and cool down. Below are some conditions runners may experience if they are running in heat or humidity that is too high.

While every runner is different, certain conditions make some more susceptible to these conditions than others. Special precautions should be taken if any of the following apply.

  • Currently pregnant
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Long distance runs
  • Hard workouts
  • 60+ years of age
Summer running season brings many challenges between the heat and humidity. Here is what to do and avoid to beat the heat when running.

10 Tips for Summer Running

The heat, sun and humidity can make summer running feel a bit intimidating, but with the proper precautions, it is possible to enjoy – and even thrive – when running in the summer. Here are some tips to make the most of this season.

Run earlier or later

One of the easiest ways to make summer running more enjoyable is to run earlier or later in the day. Morning running is much more accessible in the summer since the sun rises early in the day. If waking up early isn’t your jam, try squeezing in a run after dinner when the day cools down.

Invest in a proper fitting sports bra

Sports bras can make or break your experience, especially when running in the heat. Finding a sports bra that fits properly will not only make you more comfortable, but will prevent the most common type of chafing due to sweat and rubbing during a hot run.

Prioritize hydration

Staying hydrated is important in all seasons, but it is absolutely crucial in hot weather. In hot weather, our bodies sweat to help cool down – but this can quickly lead to dehydration.

Prioritize hydrating before, during and after a run in the summer. Carry water with you to sip on throughout, and invest in a handheld water bottle or hydration belt for long runs.

Protect from the sun

The sun, heat and humidity can create a recipe for disaster during summer running. A simple way to minimize the effects is to protect from the sun. Protecting from the sun means using sunscreen on all exposed skin, as well as wearing a visor or hat to keep heat off your face.

Warm up

It takes the body some extra time to acclimate to extreme conditions like heat and humidity. During the summer running season, every single run should involve a warm up. This warm up provides your body with some time to adjust and acclimatize to the heat with minimal exertion.

Carry ice water

Bringing water on a hot summer run is an excellent way to prevent dehydration, but it doesn’t do much to keep you cool. Just like your body, that water warms up in high temperatures.

Try this trick: the night before your run, fill your running water bottle(s) halfway with water and leave them in the freeze on their side. When it’s time to run the next day, fill the empty side with water and let the ice melt throughout your run.

Adjust your expectations

Summer running season is not the time for PRs and hard workouts. When you venture outdoors to run in the heat, you’ll need to adjust your expectations according to the conditions.

High humidity and/or heat means that your heart will be working harder to maintain your regular pace, and it will feel harder than usual. Let go of your expectations and simply do what you can.

Educate yourself

Perhaps the most important thing any runner can do before running in summer is to educate themselves on heat-related conditions and their warning signs.

Too often, runners wind up in danger because they have either ignored warning signs or aren’t aware that their body is sending a red flag. Take time to learn about heat stroke, heat rash and heat exhaustion, as well as what to do if you start to experience any of the symptoms.

Run based on feel (not pace)

Running in the heat is a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness and listening to your body. This season should be about running based on feel, rather than pace.

For some runners, this means tuning into some heart rate training. For others, this means long slow distance runs. And for most, this simply means avoiding checking your pace throughout the run and simply running.

Choose sweat-wicking clothing

Investing in a few pieces of sweat-wicking running clothes and mesh running shoes can help your body stay cool in the heat. These clothes are designed with materials that help keep sweat away from the body, so it doesn’t pool on your skin and increase your body heat.

What to Avoid When Running in the Summer

It’s easy to find a list of the millions of things you should be doing during a hot run, but sometimes it’s more effective to adjust by removing some habits or mindsets that might be holding you back. Here is what to avoid when running in the summer.

  • Avoid wearing dark colors
  • Avoid running in the middle of the day
  • Avoid checking your pace
  • Avoid wearing cotton
  • Avoid wearing ill-fitting clothes
  • Avoid running in a fasted state
  • Avoid pushing your body too hard

Summer running season is a great time to stay consistent and listen to your body. Those hot, humid runs will pay off greatly once the weather cools in the fall, and sets most runners up for a season of PRs. Stick with it in the heat, adjust accordingly and simply embrace the season!

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