It’s no secret that Colby and I are not exactly fans of running in the heat. But since summer is almost here and there are lots of hot-weather runs and races for us in the near future, we have fully accepted that we are just going to have to suck it up. Sigh.
Gearing up for the hot & sticky running season ahead, I thought I’d write down some of my favorite tips for running in the heat. If you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em…
1. Wear light clothes. And I don’t just mean lightweight, I mean light in color, too. Dark clothes absorb heat. Loose fitting clothes will feel cooler than tight ones, as well. Save the black compression shorts for when it is cooler.
2. Avoid cotton like the plague. Look for fabrics that wick unless you want a hot, soggy mess stuck to your skin for the duration of your run. And a nice case of road rash afterward.
3. Speaking of which, loose-fitting tech clothes – though way better than plain old cotton in the wicking department – do not possess magical powers, and will still get damp, especially along the seams. Since wearing wet clothes is an invitation to chafing and road rash, be sure to use Glide on any skin that touches the seams, waistlines, etc. of your clothes. I always get “bitten” on my back by the waistline of my shorts even with Glide – I can only imagine how bad it would be without it. Yowza.
4. Wear a visor. Or a loose fitting, breathable hat. Keeping the sun from beating directly on to your face will make a world of difference in your comfort level.
5. Wear sunscreen. Running with a sunburn will only make you feel worse, both during and after the run.
6. When you are sweating a lot, water alone isn’t enough to keep you safely hydrated. Make sure you switch up plain water with a drink that contains sodium and electrolytes. Your stomach may not like this. Be sure to experiment with different drinks (or gels or chews) before race day.
7. Hydrate before you head out for a run – drink a glass of water before you head out the door. If you have a race coming up, be sure to start hydrating with extra water, coconut water and/or sports drinks a few days before the race. Lots of juicy fruits and vegetables, chia seeds and some salty foods in addition to water in the days before a race or long run will help keep you hydrated.
8. Hydrate while you run. Be sure to bring water with you if there is no water available on your route. Camelback bags, hydration belts, handheld water bottle holders – there are plenty of options for carrying water with you while you run, including the old school option of just carrying a water bottle in your hand. Colby shared a great idea with me a few years ago –she stashes water bottles along her route before she heads out for a long run, so she has a fresh supply at regular intervals. I usually put them in friends’ mailboxes that happen to be on my route, so I can easily swap out the empty bottles for the full ones. If your stomach tolerates it well, add in a sports drink at some point during a long run or race. I can’t drinks sports drinks during a long run or race, but do just fine with coconut water.
9. Hydrate after you run. Sense a theme here? Hydration – it’s a Good Thing. Make sure you switch up plain water with a drink (or food, chew or gel) that also contains electrolytes and salt – especially if, like me, you have limited stomach tolerance for drinking sports drinks before and while running. If it sounds like you basically have to hook yourself up to an IV for the summer – well, that’s about right, if you plan on doing a lot of running outside.
10. If you are racing, focus on running smart, not fast. If you take the few seconds to stop at water stations for a drink or two, you will probably finish the race faster, not slower. And you will feel a heck of a lot better at the end. A race in the heat is not the time to try for a PR.
11. On the subject of wet clothes…lots of hot weather races have sprinkler stations. While running through cold water can be instantly refreshing, tread lightly when it comes to the sprinkler station. Running afterward in wet clothes may make you feel worse and give you a rash and/or blisters. Probably best to hit a sprinkler station toward the end of the race, so you aren’t running for long in soaking wet clothes and shoes.
12. Putting a coldpack or running cold water on the inside of your wrists is a great way to cool down quickly after a run. And it feels great.
Anyone else have some good hot-weather running tips? Let me know. It’s a blissful mid-60’s/low 70’s here in CT this week, but we’re not fooled – we know it’s not gonna last for long….