Clear skies and warmer temperatures make summer an ideal time to increase the frequency of your runs. But working out in extreme temperatures without taking the proper precautions can be downright dangerous.
Here are a 10 safety tips for summer running to help you avoid heat stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.
As runners, our bodies operate a lot differently in the summer: our body temperature rises, heart rate increases and blood vessels dilate. That being said, it’s so important to take things slow during the first few days and weeks of your outdoor summer runs. This will give your body enough time to acclimate.
Timing is Everything
It’s always a good idea to check the heat index (not just the temperature) before you take your workout outside. The heat index takes into account the humidity in the air and indicates how hot it actually is. In addition, using a weather app can also give you updates on the air quality in your area. For example, the Weather Channel has a special feature in their app called the Go Run Forecast. It can help you to optimize your run by providing information on factors like cloud cover, wind and humidity. Click here for further details.
Overall, a good rule of thumb is to schedule your summer runs in the morning or in the evening when the weather is cooler and the air quality is better. On days when this isn’t possible, you should consider working out indoors. As an added benefit, cross-training activities such as spinning or circuit training can help you to avoid common running injuries.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Because we sweat a lot more during the summer, staying properly hydrated is essential. However, you must have a strategy in place that is dependent on the length of your workout.
If you’re going on a short run -- 30 minutes or less -- you don’t need to bring water with you. But for runs that exceed 45 minutes, be sure to take a bottle of water or a sport drink to replenish the electrolytes you’ll lose. Coconut water is a great alternative as it contains two important minerals: potassium and magnesium.
You should also get into the habit of drinking enough water throughout the hot summers days — not just before, during and after your runs.
Find Safety in Numbers
Joining a running club is an excellent year-round tip, but especially in the summer when groups tend to be a lot more active. This is a great way to meet new friends and stay motivated.
However, if you prefer to run by yourself, you should always let a friend or family members know your plans beforehand.
Run Near Water
Because asphalt and concrete retain heat, try to find a running trail that’s shaded or near to a body of water. Running in a park is always a great option, especially if they keep their sprinklers going during hot summer days.
Splashing cold water on your head, or the back of your neck and under your arms will help to quickly cool you down if you’re overheating. However, be sure to avoid getting your feet wet, as the extra moisture can give rise to painful blisters.
Cool Down Before You Head Out
As the name suggests, precooling is a technique used to reduce a runner’s body temperature before they exercise to boost performance and endurance. This easy to execute strategy is becoming increasingly popular. A quick swim, cold shower or wearing a frozen towel around your neck are excellent examples of precooling.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Because we often spend so much time outdoors, runners have a much higher rate of skin cancer. This means that sunscreen should become as second nature as lacing up your sneakers. We recommend choosing a water-resistant sports sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for maximum protection.
Protect Your Eyes
When we think of sun protection, we usually only think about our skin. However, we should definitely make eye protection a priority year-round — but especially now, because longer summer days mean more exposure to the sun and more time outdoors.
You should consider wearing sunglasses (even on cloudy days). The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either UV400 or 100% UV protection.
In addition, you can also wear a visor or a hat that’s lightweight and light colored so it will reflect the dangerous sunlight rather than absorb it.
Wear the Right Gear
Be sure to choose loose-fighting, light colored, moisture wicking clothes that will keep you cool and dry. Your clothes can also help to protect your skin from the sun. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends workout fabrics that have UPF of 30 or higher, which means it will allow just 1/30th of the sun's UV radiation to penetrate the fabric.
As the temps rise, don’t be tempted to run without socks. This can leave you prone to discomfort and increase the chances of developing blisters. Our Elite Runner socks are a favorite for this time of year because they are go through a multi-step process that makes them moisture-wicking and antimicrobial.
Your feet will thank you!
Have you seen our new Miami Vice design? Why not pick up a pair for summer on our website?
Learn the Warning Signs and Take Heed
Finally, as much as you may want to take advantage of the gorgeous weather, educate yourself on the warning signs of dangerous heat-related illnesses. The moment you begin to experience any of the following symptoms (or if you just don’t feel well), take a break immediately, preferably in the shade:
- Chronic headaches
- Confusion or delirium
- Red and hot skin
- Heavy, sweaty palms