The summer season is definitely not the most favorable for peak outdoor athletic performance, unless you’re talking about water sports. The intense heat and high humidity make training much harder than usual, putting additional strain on the body and cardiovascular system. Body temperature rises and as a result, you sweat more, causing blood vessels to dilate. Risks such as cramps, heat exhaustion and dehydration are also more likely.
There is no magic formula to combat the summer heat, but with targeted measures and a readjustment of the training schedule, it is possible to train even in summer. Also, don’t forget that you have more daylight in the mornings and evenings in the summer and can use it more effectively!
Here are 5 tips to escape the heat and work out in the summer months.
Clothing is an important element to consider when running in the summer. The advice, of course, is to dress as lightly as possible, wearing light-colored clothing (dark colors absorb the sun’s heat), loose-fitting and airy, allowing air to flow over the skin and cool it down. Clothing made of microfiber or polyester fabrics and generally breathable material is preferred to promote the evaporation process. Cotton clothing, on the other hand, should be avoided, as it traps the heat emitted by the body, retaining sweat and thus increasing the body temperature.
So the perfect outfit would be: t-shirt/vest and short shorts made of the above mentioned fabric, sunglasses, hat (or visor to allow the heat to escape from the head). And don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun! Sunscreen with a protection factor of 30 or higher is essential during the summer months (more on sunscreen in our blog article).
Find ideal locations
If you live in the city it is more difficult to find a suitable place to escape the heat. It is advisable to plan a route that is as shady and close to nature as possible. Try to run in parks, in the shade of trees and in the middle of greenery. Asphalt and concrete are known to retain heat and make roads feel like burning frying pans! Therefore, look for paths away from the sun, as shade will lower temperatures by a few degrees.
If you have the opportunity to run in the mountains or by the ocean, pay attention to factors like altitude and ocean breezes: these can mask the heat and make the weather seem cooler than it actually is! Again, don’t forget to drink and apply sunscreen.
Start running at the right time
To escape the summer heat, it’s important to choose the right time of day to run. The coolest part of the day is, of course, early morning when the sun rises. The climate has absorbed the coolness of the night, and the air quality is excellent, making running pleasant at this time of day. Of course, it is not easy to get used to this morning routine, but the benefits are many and you will be highly motivated to start the day!
An alternative is to run in the evening, when the sun’s rays are no longer hitting your body. Still, the temperatures are not as low as in the morning. Make sure you don’t run for too long, or you might have a hard time falling asleep. So avoid the afternoon when the sun is high and the humidity is high.
Running in high temperatures causes massive fluid loss, which increases the risk of dehydration. Make sure you drink enough before and during exercise. It is recommended to drink 0.5 liters of water or sports drink at least one hour before your run. Drink some water 15 minutes before you start running. During exercise (if it lasts longer than 1 hour), drink about 1 sip of water or sports drink every 5 minutes on average. Sports drinks are not a must, but are recommended because they contain electrolytes, minerals that increase water absorption and replace electrolytes lost through sweating. At the end of the workout, you should drink at least another half liter of water.
If you can’t take water with you, you should try to move your workout to routes that have access to water sources. Otherwise, you can buy a bottle belt or camelback.
Water can also help lower body temperature by pouring it over your head or getting your hat or t-shirt wet!
Check out our partner Medbase’s article for everything you need to know about hydration.
Be patient and adapt your training
Be patient and adapt your body to the high temperatures! It takes about 10 days to get used to the heat. After that, increase the duration and intensity of your workout again. This allows the body to reduce heart rate, lower core body temperature and increase sweat production.
In fact, heat has effects on a physiological level. Heart rate increases because the body has to fight the effects of overheating and consequently there is less energy in the muscles (because it has to focus on cooling). The same physical effort is felt more in the summer.
Therefore, don’t just focus on pace, cadence or speeddie pace. Listen to your body and adapt your training. You can cut a long run in half or replace a training session with a water activity. Reduce your pace, stop when you feel too tired, take breaks, and don’t be too demanding. We all slow down in hot weather, it’s a scientific fact. Run more on the basis of effort than on the basis of guidelines. After all, summer means vacation!