Safety Tips for Summertime Running

July 7, 2009

Summertime is here, which means much of your running will be taking place in hot, humid conditions.  It is important to continue your workouts, even as the temperature rises, as the miles you build in the summer will be essential for your fall race schedule.  Following are some tips to help you train smartly through the summer heat and get the most out of your workout.
1. Wear Lightweight Clothes -- It is important to wear cool, comfortable clothing.  You should look for technical clothes that offer sweat-wicking properties, which will wick the sweat away from your skin, and keep you cool.  Cottons often hold on to moisture, making it uncomfortable to workout in for an extended period of time.  Look for clothing that has a lot of mesh and breath-ability.   Apparel brands such as Sugoi and lululemon Athletica offer running apparel that are both sweat- wicking and anti-stink from the silver that is woven into the clothing.  
2. Protect yourself from the Sun -- Protecting yourself from too much sun exposure should be a priority.  Wear a hat that keeps the sun off of your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes.  Be sure to wear sweat-proof sunscreen.  Some sportswear companies make clothes that have UPF (sunscreen for clothes) in it to protect you even further.
3. Hydration -- You should pay attention to hydration throughout the entire year, but especially during the summer.  Be sure to hydratee with water or sports drink throughout the day and  start hydrating for key workouts and races several days in advance, so that your body will have time to absorb the liquid.  Your urine should be clear or very pale yellow.  Make sure to re-hydrate during and after workouts to replace fluid loss.
4. Heat Acclimation -- Make it easier to acclimate to the heat.  DC based running coach Mike Hamberger recommends that you use your air conditioner as little as possible in order to acclimate quicker to the heat outdoors.  If you are running a race in an area that is warmer than you are used to, arrive a couple of days early to allow your body to adjust to the change in temperature.  
5. Watch for Signs of Dehydration -- Be smart during your workout.  If you feel faint or dizzy stop immediately, find a shaded area to recover and hydrate.  By training smartly and following the four steps above, you should be able to avoid dehydration and other heat related illnesses.

6. Pace --Don’t be afraid to adjust your pace and slow down if necessary.  Your body will be working harder to keep you cool.   Also, stick to shaded or wooded areas to protect yourself from the sun and to make your workout at little bit more comfortable.  Ideally, run a route where you will have access to a water fountain.

7. Protect your Stuff --For extra sweaty runs, wrap your cell phone and cash in a ziplock bag or plastic wrap to protect it from excess moisture.  Remember, most cell phone insurance plans don’t cover water damage!
Happy Running!