Summer Running Guide: Drink Up, Slow Down, Make Adjustments

Summer is here, and it is hot. In DC, we had a spurt of cool weather and rain a week or two ago, but summer returned, rearing its angry head, and now I pretty much start sweating the moment I leave my house. I look really good by the time I arrive at work. 

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Just a typical DC mid-morning.

Now, preparing to run outside isn’t as simple as it is during prime running conditions (cool weather, low humidity, lack of burning-hot-sun). And sure, I’m not running around anymore trying to locate layers, gloves, hat, and Yaktrax like I did in the winter, but there are some important things to keep in mind as I learn to run safely in the heat.

There’s a new normal around here, and it includes mandatory water, sun protection and a more realistic idea of running an “easy effort.”

Here are a few ways I run in the heat:

  1. Carry water. Lately, I’ve been taking a handheld with me on runs as short as two miles. I don’t sweat lightly, and I know that I am losing important fluids as my body tries to cool itself down. I’ve started using Nuun religiously to replace electrolytes and keep hydrated during my run, and I continue drinking water when I return from my run and cool down. I carry the Nathan SpeedDraw Plus (affiliate link), which also snugly fits my iPhone 6 in the front pocket.
  2. Protect yourself from the sun. My essentials? Waterproof/sweat-proof sunscreen and a hat! I stick both of these items prominently in my running drawer so they’re easy to grab as I get dressed for a run. This Mama Runs for Cupcakes wrote a great post on Melanoma Awareness and sun protection that’s worth checking out!
  3. Dress appropriately. Easy — wear what keeps you as cool as possible. I know I don’t need to convince you to leave the long sleeves at home on a hot summer’s day, unless you’re using it to protect your skin. I also always opt for fabrics that wick away sweat. Cotton fabrics will trap sweat close to the body and add weight and discomfort you don’t want or need.
  4. Make adjustments. Prefer running after work? Perhaps try heading out a little earlier in the day or later in the evening. I like running in the morning and knowing that I’ve got it out of the way, but sometimes I can’t convince myself to roll out of bed. On days like this, I try to run when the sun is less powerful.
  5. Slow down. There is no doubt that the heat impacts your workout. While I am not yet a speedster, I have noticed my usual pace has been creeping a little higher than normal, and it looks like this is pretty standard. In fact – you can use this temperature calculator to estimate a more accurate pace depending on the current temperature. For example, let’s look at 3 mile run that I might expect to finish in 31:30. In great running conditions, 60*, I could easily run 10:30 minutes/mile, but as the temperature nears 80*, the heat adds almost twenty seconds per mile for the same effort. A Runner’s World article shows even more dramatic effects; it says that every 5* rise in temperature above 60* can slow your pace by as much 20-30 seconds per mile. As practice, try running a little slower than you’re used to and see how you fare. If you feel good further into your run, you can pick up a little more speed.

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What are your summer running tips?

4 thoughts on “Summer Running Guide: Drink Up, Slow Down, Make Adjustments”

  1. I try to run early (before the sun blazes) and I always carry water. I also try to do a bit more running on shady paths, and I will occasionally wear a visor. Not the cutest thing on, but it does the trick 🙂 Great tips and a super helpful post!!

    Liked by 1 person

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