The heat of summer has descended upon us.  And that means it’s time to take precautions and stay safe when outdoors.  While these tips are directed toward running during the summer months, the information is valuable to anyone spending time out in the heat.

  • Drink plenty of water.  Sweating removes a lot of water from your body that needs to be replaced.  Be sure to drink plenty of liquids while outdoors to avoid dehydration.  If you are outdoors for an extended period of time, you may consider a drink that replenishes your electrolytes as well.  Gatorade is a popular choice, as is Nuun which can be added directly to your water bottle.  Choose a route that has plenty of water fountains or carry a handheld water bottle or hydration pack.
  • Wear light colors and loose-fitting, lightweight materials.  Light colors will reflect the sun, keeping you slightly cooler.  Also opt for lightweight materials such as wicked technical shirts that are designed to keep you cooler.
  • Wear sunscreen.  The sun can be brutal so it’s always important to protect yourself against the harmful rays.
  • Try to pick a shady route.  Temperatures will be slightly cooler in the shade and will help you avoid having the sun beat directly down on you.
  • Slow the pace down considerably.  Don’t expect to maintain your usual pace when the temperature soars.  Your body needs the additional time to cool itself down and pushing too hard is taxing on your cardiac and respiratory systems.
  • Run early in the day when it’s coolest.  Running before the sun comes up and heats everything up is ideal if you choose to run outdoors.  The early morning hours are the coolest of the day.
  • Use a treadmill.  If it’s just too hot, find a treadmill and take advantage of the climate controlled environment.  You can still work up a good sweat indoors with the fan on!
  • Allow your body time to acclimate to the heat.  It takes time to get used to running in the heat.  Be sure to give yourself time to adjust to the increased demands that heat places on your body.
  • Heed heat warnings.  Warnings are there for a reason.  Ignoring them can have very dangerous consequences.  Carefully consider heat warnings and stay inside if it’s too hot or otherwise unsafe.
  • Lower your expectations.  Running in the heat is tough, even for the best, most experienced runners.  If you are expecting improvement during the summer months, you may be disappointed as it is difficult to make progress in extreme temperatures.  Keep working even at a slower pace and you’ll see improvement when the temperature drops!

It’s also helpful to know the warning signs of dehydration and heatstroke.  Signs of dehydration include increased thirst, inability to sweat, headache, dizziness, heart palpitations or decreased urine output.  A throbbing headache, fainting, rapid breathing, or nausea may be signs of heat stroke and should be addressed immediately.

Be sure to stay safe this summer when running or enjoying any type of outdoor activity!

Do you run outdoors during the summer months?  How do you make sure to stay safe when you are outdoors?

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