I am training for my second Chicago Marathon which will be run in October. That means training in the summer, which is fun because it’s in the sun but challenging because of the heat and humidity. Sunshine triggers the release of serotonin in your brain, which in turn makes you generally happier. This is partly why we are happier and more active in the summer when the days are longer and the sun sets later. The longer days may entice you to take your exercise routine outside, but the hotter weather might convince you otherwise. Running in the heat of the summer is not unconventional, just be sure to properly support your health when doing so.
Time your run right
The middle of the day from around 12 noon to 4 pm will be the hottest time of the day. In the summer, the difference in temperature between midday and early morning or evening can be significant. If possible, try to plan your runs for the cooler hours, your body will thank you – and so will your airways since there is less ozone in the air at this time.
Suit up correctly
One may think that less clothing is better when running, but in reality, it is all about material. Moisture-wicking material that carries a loose fit will help regulate your body temperature better than tight clothing that stores heat against your body, like cotton. Ditch the all-black outfit or else you will attract the sun’s rays – stick with lighter, looser clothing.
Listen to your body
In the summer, it is much more difficult to maintain your usual running pace for several reasons. For starters, your heart rate is elevated in the heat, meaning that it takes less effort to reach your max. If you feel dizzy, overheated, or sore, your body is telling you to calm down. Remain realistic with your pace and distance – it is okay to take your runs a bit slower as you will still reap the same health benefits. This is especially true with really high temperatures and high humidity. When in doubt, be safe and go it slow … and listen to your body!
This may seem like the most obvious since hydration is important in the heat even if you are not running. However, it is a step that many people don’t execute correctly. Properly prepare for your run by hydrating throughout the day. The hotter you are, the more you will sweat while your body tries to lower your temperature. The more sweat you lose, the more water you have to replenish your body. Be sure that you are drinking the proper amount of water, which varies person by person. Hydrate before, during, and after all runs.
Try something new
If you are running for fitness, there are ample other ways to still receive a great cardiovascular workout with less stress from the heat. Try biking for distance, or moving your workout inside on a treadmill. On especially hot days during my marathon training, I will not hesitate to take it to the treadmill. Sure, it can be boring but is a safe and reliable substitute to a super-hot outdoor run. If you have accessibility to a pool, water exercises are a great way to move your muscles while staying cool. If running is something you must do, try switching up your usual route to one that is heavily shaded, or shortening your run and substituting your time with strength exercises.