It must be Summer. Not because I have been sweating just standing still, but because the number of heat related questions asked to me, has been off the charts. "How can I beat the heat?". "How do I run in the heat?". "How can I stay cool?". "Can I just bake cupcakes instead?". While the later does sound tempting, it probably won't help you in running. Here are 6 ways to beat the heat.
#1) Early Bird Gets the Shade. The best way to beat the heat is to run early in the morning. I encourage people to run before work as a general rule of thumb, but when you are trying to stay cool, running in the early morning hours is a good habit to get into. Yes, that might be running at 5:01am. I promise you'll be a better person when you finish:)
#2) Get used to it. If you are training for a half or full marathon, chances are that you will be running in heat and the sun on race day. So don't avoid the heat completely. Your long run on the weekend will probably encounter some of the sun/heat, so consider that good prep for what could happen on race day.
#3) Stay cool. Wear moisture wicking clothes. I know I harp on this a lot, but I am still seeing people wear cotton T-shirts/shorts. While cool (no pun intended) for the casual outing, it is not what you want to be wearing to run in (or any exercise for that matter). Take yourself to a running store and invest in some "technical" running gear. Also, wear a sweat band or a running cap. A cap will help shade you from the sun beating down. If you are a guy without hair, then you'll probably really appreciate this. Getting a sunburn is no fun! Personally I detest sweat in my eyes. So in addition to wearing a running cap, I also carry a washcloth. I wipe the sweat from my face & eyes. While probably physiological only, I think it helps. I also have been known to dunk it in a river or whatever water source I can find while running [ultra marathon]. Also, protect your eyes, wear sunglasses
#4) Stay Hydrated! This doesn't mean start drinking water 29 seconds before a run. Or start during a run. You can't cram hydration. Hydrate through out the day. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Also, make sure you are getting enough electrolytes. Try Smart Water or AquaHydrate. Don't over drink. Don't under hydrate. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your urine is the color of lemonade. A sweat test is also a great indicator for how much water you should be drinking. Most likely you'll need more then 8 glasses a day in the Summer.
#5) Move. If you don't like the heat, move to a different climate in the heat months. Maybe you've always dreamed of going to Australia, then maybe the Summer is your chance to make that dream happen. Probably not possible for 99.9% of us, but we can dream, right? :)
#6) Adapt. Back in the day, people didn't have AC. Depending on your living arrangements, turn off the AC. I recently heard this tip from another running coach. Yeah, the first week might suck, but when race day comes, you'll be 90% ahead of the other people toeing the line.
Exception: If you are training for an ultra marathon, heat training is most likely a part of your plan. But that's a topic for another day.
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Photo by jurvetson