Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heed the Heat

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Today was the summer solstice, and mother nature celebrated with a sudden heat surge.  We saw (and felt) temps in the 90s (which felt far worse with humidity), and tomorrow is predicted to be similar.  What this indicates for the rest of the summer, I don’t know, but this head-first dive into summer heat reminds us that we must be careful when spending time outdoors—ESPECIALLY when working out!

Know your (UV) A, B, and Cs

Whether you’re sitting outside to enjoy a meal or you’re out training for a marathon, it’s important to be aware of the sun’s effects on our bodies and how we can prevent it from harming us.  So, runners, before you hit the road this week, be sure to get back into the habit of heeding the heat, with these steps: 

Hydrate This may seem obvious, but too often, many of us forget to plan ahead and find ourselves searching for water only once we’ve already reached serious dehydration.  Make sure you drink before, during (long runs), and after your run to stay hydrated, and be wary of the signs and symptoms (LINK) of dehydration.  Learn more about dehydration symptoms, prevention, and treatment here. 

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Wear light clothing. Synthetic fabrics and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing are your best bet.  You should also seek synthetic blends for your socks, because your feet sweat, too. 

Don’t expect immediate acclimation.  It takes approximately two weeks of running in heat and humidity before your body adapts to the new, hot weather conditions.   (

Wear sunscreen.  If you’re walking, running, or training under the sun, it’s imperative that you protect your skin as though you were at the beach.  Just because you’re in motion doesn’t mean the sun can’t find you.  Be sure to slather on sunscreen before heading outside, and look for a sweat-proof brand that will keep you covered even when you’re dripping liquid awesome.


Wear sunglasses.  Just like your skin, your eyes also need protection from UV rays.  I used to think that wearing sunglasses while on a run was ridiculous—they’ll just slip off or get in my way, right?  Then, I tried out the OAKLEY (link) sunglasses I got at FITBLOGNYC and never looked back.  Oakley’s athletic sunglasses are (a) so comfortable, you forget your wearing them, (b) don’t slip off at alllllll, even when you’re sweating, and (c) are totally fashionable!  Now, I wear them on my runs AND on the streets.

Run in the morning or evening; avoid running during peak sun hours when it’s hottest out.  Try to do your workout before 10am or after 6pm.  If you have allergies, the evening may be your best bet, because pollen counts are high in the morning.

Even with proper precautions, we’re all susceptible to the sun.  Be aware of the signs of heat-related illness: heat cramps (muscle cramps, muscle spasms, heavy sweating), heat exhaustion (profuse sweating, drop in BP, elevated body temp, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, decreased coordination, fainting), and heat stroke (High body temp, lack of sweating, dry, red skin, altered consciousness).  Marathon Guide explains these conditions and treatment.  

With the dangers in mind, Jenn at Run With Rabbits reminds us that, when necessary, it's okay to take it easy or move your workout indoors.  We can take all the appropriate precautions, but sometimes extreme heat might be too dangerous.  Be aware of your environment and body's signs. 

In the cold of winter, I had been looking forward to the warmer weather, but a short run early this morning reminded me how tough the sun can be on endurance.  The truth is, some of these tips may seem somewhat obvious; however, we do not always follow this simple advice.  I admit, sometimes I'm too hurried or forgetful to put on sunscreen before my workout, and I don't actually own a hand-held water bottle or water belt to hydrate mid-run.  This summer, I dare myself to take the sun seriously, and to make smarter decisions about our running habits.

And I dare you: dress appropriately, protect your eyes and skin, hydrate, and plan your workouts according to the sun.  

Do you run outside in extreme heat?  
How does your routine change? 


  1. I hate running in the heat, well actually not so much the humidity, but I just don't cope well in bright sunshine at all! I just tend to go early in the morning if I know it's going to be a hot day. Great tips!

  2. Im an INDOORS in the summer woman now that Im a TEXAS in the same way I used to be indoors in the winter on the east coast!

  3. I live in south MS, so this is a biggie for us (I wrote this same post a couple years ago haha!) I think the biggest thing is adjusting your goals. I used to get so frustrated with myself when my times slowed down in the summer, forgetting that the heat and 97$ humidity have a lot to do with it!

  4. yeahhhhh sunglasses!! I am so glad you mentioned that, now that I work with oakley and really understand how much energy you waste without them i always wear them.

    i think giving your body time is big. Even in Florida there is an adjustment as the humidity picks up

  5. And it's supposed to be 100 out today in NYC! Eeeek

    I worked out yesterday inside in Air conditioning : )

  6. I ran this morning and it was already 80 degrees at 7:30! By the time I was done it was probably close to the 95 degrees it is supposed to be today. My husband and I definitely try not to run at peak times, but we need to get out earlier for our long runs. We also are really bad at sunscreen, especially for bike rides! Need to work on that!

  7. Oh, my sunglasses are a must! Unless it's before the sun rises when I run of course. I have to sort of get used to the heat being in Florida. Sticky!

  8. Here in Maryland, heat and humidity become the norm around mid-June. I despise running on a treadmill, so it's acclimate for me! I do slow my pace down, however, with the exception of speed work (even that is slower, just not by design!). In the end, I always come out of summer feeling stronger!

  9. Ugh the heat kills me. I make sure to run in the mornings though and give myself time to ease up my pace and distance as needed while acclimating to the heat. It's rough here in GA. Great post, Meredith!

  10. Ugh. I hate running in the heat. HATE it. I do it though. I actually run a lot more inside on the treadmill during the summer (with a fan and a good DVD). :) Great tips!

  11. I can't do heat at all. I try and try and try and every year it's a big failure on my part. Oh well. Then again I did run 30 miles in 80 degree heat last year so many that's not a failure? Hahah. I'm just not fast at all

  12. I always run with nuun in the summer. I often run in the mid-day heat, but I make sure I take it slow and don't run long. I'm not a fan of the heat, but I live in Virginia, so I just suck it up and deal. (And I love how fast I get in the fall when it cools down!)

  13. Great tips! I think the sunglass one is great...all that squinting without them will give early crows feet...something I'm not keen on. :)

  14. Great tips, love! Especially hydration. Our cells need it! Running and I have a love/hate relationships so I just tend to do it whenever I get the urge. ;-)

  15. What great advice! I didn't know it took two weeks to acclimate--that explains a few of my crappy runs. Here in northern Illinois, in the land of extremes, I feel like I'm acclimating all year long. My heat solution is to run late, after the sun goes down. Others run early, but I just can't do it. My body is too old or something.

  16. the last couple saturdays i've gotten out of my summer class after my gym closes, so i've been doing something i don't often do - run! i'm going today in fact. i've definitely taken some of this advice into account but not the sunscreen...oops :( i do run around 5:30PM though, on a shady trails. i also make sure to hydrate a TON before/after that's for sure! makes a huge diff in performance.

  17. I am the biggest wimp when it comes to running in the heat. I run early, take coconut water, and if it's too hot...I'm on the treadmill. :)

  18. i dont do hot or cold so i workout mostly at the gym


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