At the weather warms up, a lot of runners will inevitably find themselves caught off guard with an unexpectedly hot day leading to an unexpectedly bad run (or worse). Think now about how you’re going to keep cool as the temperature rises so that you can avoid getting overheated on a hot day.
Here are five tips for keeping cool and staying safe:
Dress light and loose. Shoe advertisements notwithstanding, the best way to beat the heat isn’t by wearing tight, revealing clothing. Exposed skin is a heat magnet (and a sunburn risk). To keep cool, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Use sunblock for whatever is left exposed.
Change hats. Heat rises. As a result, our bodies expel a ton of heat through the top of the head. That’s why hats can keep us so toasty in the winter. Since hats are great for sun protection, it’s still a good idea to wear them, but a light, well-ventilated one can let heat escape and help cool you off.
Drink water. Drinking before, after, and even during your run isn’t enough. To really be hydrated, you need to drink water all day long. If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, your body is already dehydrated. Keep a water bottle with you and get plenty of the wet stuff, starting as soon as you get up in the morning.
Avoid the worst of it. The bottom line is that if the heat of the day is going to be simply too much, stay out of the sun when it’s at it’s strongest. Morning and evening runs can help you stay out of the heat, which is a little easier as the days gets longer. Another option is to opt for a shady trail run to get out of the direct sun.
Be smart. If it’s just crazy hot out and you don’t feel up to a run, don’t be ashamed of staying inside. Do a circuit workout or some cross-training instead. Even more important, if you do find yourself feeling lousy mid-run (headache, nausea, chills, etc.), play it safe and call it a day. It’s a lot easier to recover from a crummy run than it is a bout of heat stroke. Be safe out there!