Friday, August 16, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer: How to Survive the Summer Running Season (Tips for Warm Weather Running)

When you are a runner in Texas like I am, you learn to accept a certain truth: It's hot, y'all.

These are the dog days of summer. What does that mean for your training? If you are an outdoor runner like me, you know that taking up the dreadmill is an option, but only as a last resort. So how do you keep training in the great outdoors and survive these summer month runs? Here are a few tips for the running in the heat that seem to work for me.

1. Hydrate:

Drink water before, during, and after your run. Hydration isn't about chugging a ton of water before you head out the door, it is about staying hydrated. Drink water all day to try to stay in a hydrated state.

During my run, I often leave a couple bottles of water (try freezing them!) on my front stoop and run in loops, passing my house for a water stop as needed.

Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics so it is probably not a good idea to drink a bottle of wine at night then a Starbucks in the morning before your run (speaking from experience). Use an electrolyte drink to replenish as needed during and after your run (especially any run longer than 30 minutes). I personally like Nuun. I won't give it four stars on taste, but it gets the job done.

2. Plan Ahead

Try to plan your running route along water fountains in local parks or schools or the neighbor's sprinkler system. Map out a run that is mostly in the shade, it can feel considerably cooler under tree cover. I like to run along the trails at my local park.

3. Timing:

Try to avoid running during the hottest times of the day. Plan for early morning runs before the sun comes up (It's hard, I know) or evening runs after it cools off a bit.

4. Slow Down:

Expect your pace to slow down in the heat. Don't push yourself to exhaustion, and take walk breaks as necessary. You can work on your speed indoors or once the weather cools off. Right now it is about getting it done safely.

5. Dress the Part:

I suggest wearing light-colored, light-weight, loose fitting, technical (i.e. not cotton) clothing. Avoid cotton clothing and socks altogether. Use a chafing cream to help prevent that awful burn that is inevitable when sweaty skin rubs together.

6. Sunscreen:

Don't forget the sunscreen! Even on overcast days you can burn and cause skin damage. Besides, no one likes a runners tan.

7. Use Common Sense:

If you feel dizzy, nauseated, or if you get the chills, stop running immediately and head indoors to cool off and rehydrate, as these are signs of heat exhaustion. 

Although we might call them the dog days of summer, these days I leave Ollie at home during my runs. While I can hydrate and take it slow, it is just too hot for him. I look forward to the cool breeze of autumn so Ollie and I can rekindle our running friendship.

As always, use common sense and consult your doctor about any questions you might have about running safely in the heat. And most importantly, if you drop dead from heat exhaustion, don't blame me.

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Keep Running,


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  1. Ah, to be marathon training in Florida ;)

  2. LOL. I have definitely planned my running times and routes around lawn watering! Great tips. I'm a hot weather wimp so all of my summer running happens at 5:30 am or on a treadmill.

  3. Last summer is when I started running at 5AM and now when I race it's weird running in the daylight! :-)

  4. Such good advice. I love to run early in the morning when it's hot.

  5. p.s. and I think people don't pay enough attention to how hot the pavement can be for their dog's feet when running!

  6. Great advice! Do you ever take salt tabs? Ever since Boston's Sweat Fest of 2012, I'm a believer :)

  7. I'm a big believer in the walk and water breaks. It's amazing how much better your run can feel after a quick break! :-)

  8. I've had to leave my Layla at home during the summer as well. She misses it tremendously, but it's just too dangerous. I've also buckled in the heat and actually given in to the dreaded treadmill run several times this summer :P

  9. My daughter and I have been doing a run/walk regimen, but the heat is so miserable. I am overweight and I get about 3/4 of a mile and feel like I am standing in a fire. So hot and muggy outside then my own heat on top of that. I decided to start at around 9pm and things have been much better. I wish my neighbors would water their lawns in this neighborhood at that time. Most of them start at 4am. ^.^


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