How to Beat the Heat: Tips to Stay Cool Running this Summer

by Jim Richardson | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

Summer is a time for getting outside and enjoying the outdoors. For those who have been running on a treadmill all winter, exercising now just means walking out the front door.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Unfortunately, outdoor summer running outside comes with a major drawback: Mother Nature. Running through the rain is not such a big deal for some people, but coping with intense heat and high humidity can make a pleasant exercise session miserable. Luckily, there are ways to deal with the heat. By avoiding the hottest times of day, properly dressing for warm weather, and changing one’s workout routine, running in the summer heat will no longer be a problem.

A simple solution to warm weather running is to avoid running during the hottest times of the day. Running during the early morning, late evening, or even at night allows one to avoid the sun when it is shining at its most intense, as well as when temperatures are much milder. A word of warning about running at night: stick to routes that limit interactions with potential hazards such as traffic, or make sure to wear reflective clothing and a headlamp so that one can be seen by others, and so that obstacles such as stray rocks or glass on the route can be seen.

If running in the morning or at night is not feasible, it is still possible to make the run cooler by running in green areas and parks. Urban forests have been shown to have lower local temperatures than ordinary sidewalk and pavement cities. The shade provided by trees also reduces the intensity of the sun. Parks and green areas, however, are not the only place to experience milder city temperatures. Look to run in older residential areas, as they tend to have high tree canopy cover levels, which can provide a route that is shaded and cooler.

Dressing for the weather is key to making a hot run more enjoyable. Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing can help with ventilation. When the sun is at its worst, long sleeves and longer shorts are good option to protect more skin from the sun’s rays. As for the rest of one’s body, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a large hat are good ideas to prevent burns and keep the top of one’s head cool.

Lastly, for those who exercise on a regular schedule, changing one’s day-to-day schedule can help alleviate some of the problems associated with hot weather. Checking the weather forecast a week ahead of time can allow one to identify which days of the week will be the hottest and the coolest. Then it just takes a little planning to swap these hot and cool days to fit with one’s routine. Utilizing weather forecasts can also help to plan which days should be used for longer, more intense workouts, and for easier workouts. Try to preserve cooler days for more strenuous exercises and the warmer days for shorter, less intense workouts.

By following the advice given above, keeping cool during summer runs should be more manageable. There may be times during extended heat waves when running outside is unbearable and electing to use the treadmill makes for a smarter decision. It is always important to mind one’s body and only do what one can do given the circumstances. Always be sure to stay hydrated and safe.

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