It may not be June 21 yet, but it definitely feels like summer has arrived. And with Memorial Day weekend upon us (well, nearly, anyway) I guess the temperate days of spring are gone for the year. In New York, the temperature has been climbing steadily over the past couple weeks, and my run this morning made it clear that it’s time to summerize my running. And you know what that means? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another round of Don’t do What Emilie Don’t Does! That’s right, learn from my mistakes so that you don’t have to make them yourself. What follows are some tips that apply to running and other forms of exercise you may want to take out of doors this summer.
- DO hydrate well before leaving the house, and bring a bottle of water with you if you can. If possible, make sure you know the location of the water fountains along your running route (and check to make sure they’re on before you run up to one, panting and dry-mouthed). There are some great products out there to keep you hydrated: handheld water bottles, hydration packs that you can wear on your back, and belts that accommodate 2-6 small bottles of water. If you want to keep things simple, just grab a bottle of water and carry it with you, either holding it in your hand or resting it on your forearm. Don’t figure that since you’re comfortable running 6-8 miles without a water bottle in cooler temperatures, you’ll be just fine as it warms up.
- DO wear a hat or a visor. This will prevent a huge amount of sweat from getting in your eyes, keep your face shaded, and keep the sunlight at bay so that you’re not running along squinting. Don’t just put on a headband and figure you’re good to go.
- DO make an effort to go running during one of the coolest parts of the day. You may have to wake up earlier to do this or run as it’s getting dark when the sun is setting, but the temperature will be significantly more comfortable. Don’t check the temperature at 8 a.m. and then head out at 9:30 to run for over an hour figuring it won’t have gotten any hotter since you checked the weather earlier.
- DO invest in some running apparel made of wicking material, and avoid cotton if you can! Cotton t-shirts and shorts will just absorb sweat and get heavier and heavier as you continue to run. It’s also wise to wear apparel that fits properly, and not shorts that are pretty old and have a waistband that’s so stretched out that when they do get soaked through with sweat you have to wonder if their weight is going to pull them right off your body.
- DO recognize that there’s a difference between wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt and a singlet or sleeveless top. You will be so much more comfortable without sleeves. Generally, the less clothing you can get away with wearing, the better. Don’t assume that everything that doesn’t have long sleeves is created equal when it comes to hot weather running.
- DO keep in mind that as you sweat, your body loses salt in addition to water. For longer runs, you might want to fill your water bottle with diluted Gatorade or consider using a Nuun tablet (or a similar product) as these types of drinks will help to replenish some of the salt you’re losing. Of course you can also keep these things at home for post-run rehydration. Don’t just load up on water and assume you’ve got all your bases covered.
- DO give your body time to acclimate to the change in the weather. It can take some time to get used to the heat and humidity (if you’re so unfortunate as to have to suffer through that particular curse in your part of the world), so if you find that your performance has suffered a bit, don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t try to run just as hard or as long as you were running when it didn’t feel like a molten inferno outside. Doing so is just going to make you miserable, and it can also be dangerous.
- And a final one that is not a mistake I’ve made, but that needs to be mentioned: DO familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat exhaustion and be careful. Remember that you’re not a hero if you try to keep going even though you’ve stopped sweating and you’re getting clammy.
Be safe and enjoy!