Summer, sun & sunnies! As the sun rises in the sky, our mood improves dramatically. Pools, lakes, and beaches fill up with smiling people eager for a refreshing dip. Of course the great weather also makes us want to work out, but who’s actually motivated to do a HIIT session or go running in the heat?
These 10 tips will help you stay cool during your workouts even when it’s sweltering outside!
How your body reacts to heat
Physical activity at temperatures above 85°F/30°C noticeably strains your body and cardiovascular system. The heat also makes your body temperature rise. Your body reacts with higher sweat production, your heart rate increases, and your blood vessels dilate. Here’s what you can do to best support your body when running in the heat:
1. Start your summer workouts slowly
Give your body time to adjust to the higher temperatures. Avoid intense training sessions during the first few really hot days and start off slowly. Increase your workout intensity step by step and let your body acclimate.
Listen to your body:
Be flexible with your running schedule and allow yourself the chance to adapt your speed and distance to the conditions. Give yourself a realistic timeframe that you can manage and run according to how you feel. Mix up your pace and adjust your performance level to the heat.
2. Heat affects your heart
In summer, your heart rate is elevated. When running with a heart rate monitor, remember that higher temperatures also boost your heart rate even if you run at your usual pace. Therefore, it might be a good idea to take it a bit slower. The fitter you are, the better your body will cope with the heat, preventing your heart rate from skyrocketing.
Try the heart rate calculator:
3. Avoid midday heat
Choosing the right time of day for your training runs or races is vital during the summer months. Avoid running in the midday heat and head out in the morning or evening instead. At that time of day, it’s not only cooler, but there’s also less ozone in the atmosphere. High ozone values can irritate your eyes and airways.
4. Select the right routes
With the sun burning in the sky, adjusting your route definitely makes sense. Asphalt and cement absorb heat and transfer it to you. The hottest time of the day can be a good opportunity for you to leave your usual road routes and hit the trails. A run or workout in the woods is a lot of fun, adds variety to your training, and offers needed shade. At the same time, you will be forced to run slower on rough terrain, which will give your heart a break. If it’s still too hot (or there’s no forest nearby), you might want to run on a treadmill.
5. Choose the right outfit
The appropriate workout clothes can protect your skin from UV rays, even better than some sunscreens. Go for a loose fit and moisture-wicking materials for both your shirt and shorts to prevent heat from building up under your clothes. Running in cotton clothing is counterproductive, because it absorbs your sweat without wicking it away, plus, it doesn’t dry. The right material can help you avoid trapping the heat next to your body. Make sure you choose light colors. They reflect the sunlight and don’t store the heat. Shirt and shorts are just part of your outfit, though. A cap or light scarf can protect your head while keeping your face in the shade. Last but not least, wear sunglasses with UV protection.
6. Protect your skin
Cover all skin that is exposed to the sun with waterproof sunscreen (due to the sweat). The sun protection factor (SPF) tells you how long the sunscreen extends your skin’s own natural protection time. How much sunscreen you need depends on your skin type, the time of day, and current UV levels. Don’t forget to rub some on your neck, the back of your knees, and your ears!
Good to know:
The purpose of sweat is to cool your body. When sweat evaporates, it cools your blood vessels and your skin. Greasy sunscreen clogs your pores and make it harder for your body to sweat.
7. Stay hydrated
When jogging in the heat, your body tries to lower your core body temperature by sweating more. This causes you to lose fluids and minerals like magnesium or iron. Even a small change in your fluid balance can lead to major performance losses. The most important thing is to start off well hydrated. Drink regularly throughout the day and stick to diluted fruit juices, teas, and water (tap or mineral). If you’re going to be working out for more than an hour, make sure to have a water bottle with you and take a sip from time to time. Many cities also have public water fountains. If you don’t want to carry a water bottle with you, plan your runs on routes where water is available. Find out how much water you should drink a day:
Find out how much water you should drink a day:
8. Fill up on minerals
Wholesome foods rich in vitamins and minerals should be a regular part of your meal plan the whole year round. But when it’s hot outside, your body loses more minerals than usual due to sweating. Since your body can’t produce these on its own, they have to be obtained through the food you eat. Foods such as bananas, dried apricots and whole grain products are ideal for replacing lost minerals and make great post-workout snacks.
9. Don’t be too ambitious
If you experience headaches, intense thirst, muscle cramps or dizziness, you should stop immediately, look for shade, and drink some water. Excessive confidence is often your worst enemy when running in the heat, so leave it at home. Your body also needs longer to recover when it is very hot. If you don’t feel well, the heat is bearing down, and it’s really humid, then it’s probably a good idea to take a rest day or opt for a more refreshing training alternative.
10. Find great training alternatives
Pounding out kilometer after kilometer, drenched in sweat with a bright red face? It doesn’t have to be like that. When the pavement is scorching, trade your running shoes for a pair of wheels. Biking is a good way to supplement your running training and enjoy the cool breeze. Water aerobics or aqua jogging are good ways to cool off and still get the training effect your muscles need.