Summer is right around the corner, which means we can look forward to warmer and hotter weather, longer days, family vacations and, of course, continuing our outdoor running workouts. Even though running outside poses more difficulty in the summer heat, don’t give up on your fitness routine!
There’s something about a summer run that makes it so rewarding! I feel much stronger both physically and mentally afterward. It is good for us to be outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, so let’s take advantage of the opportunity to run outdoors while ensuring our safety.
My top tips for staying safe and having fun while running outside all season long include:
Wear apparel that’s light in color and weight. Look for breathable activewear; some styles might have vents or mesh material. Many athletic brands even say their clothing has “moisture-wicking technology.” Materials to consider are nylon, polyester, polypropylene, bamboo and spandex. Wearing fabric that wicks away moisture will not only prevent sweat from building up, but you will feel much more comfortable during your run. If possible, wear clothing with UPF sun protection. It is also important to consider your socks — blisters are more likely to occur when you sweat, so choosing a pair that wicks away sweat is key.
Wear a hat to protect your head and face from the sun. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes.
Spending more time in the sun means we need to protect our skin. Look for a sunscreen that is waterproof, sweatproof and at least SPF 30. Apply it to all areas of the body that will be exposed to the sun. If you think you might forget this step, leave your sunscreen next to your running shoes for a gentle reminder.
Consider completing your running sessions in the morning or evening rather than midday. Running first thing in the morning will feel less hot, and you will start your day feeling refreshed and accomplished! Evening runs are another great option, and they can help relieve any stress you may have experienced during the day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for morning or evening runs and you need to fit it in the middle of the day, choose shaded areas to run in. Try to avoid asphalt and cement as they tend to hold more heat. Instead, look for grassy areas, as they’re typically cooler.
Allow your body time to become accustomed to the hotter weather. Do not go too hard too fast. As with any running workout, you want to warm up and ease into it. Spend more time doing dynamic stretches to prepare your body for the exercise. Start with a power walk, followed by a light jog. The goal is to increase your heart rate gradually. This is especially important in the summer, so focus on running at an easy pace. If you’re feeling good, speed up as you go. Take it easy for the first few weeks and gently increase your distance and intensity.
Start your run with the wind and then run against it on your way back. The second half of your run will feel more difficult as you experience the added resistance of the wind, but it will provide a cooling effect that you will appreciate!
When you run outdoors in the summer, your body sweats more in an effort to cool you down. To restore the lost fluids and prevent dehydration, be sure to drink water before, during and after running. Start drinking water a few hours before your run. Stay hydrated by slowly sipping water during your run. To boost your hydration more, try a sports drink that contains electrolytes. Besides increasing water absorption, these drinks also replenish electrolytes lost in sweat. Because sports drinks have more flavor than water, you may even feel more motivated to drink them. Remember, the longer your run, the more water you will need to drink. However, make sure you don’t drink more than 32 ounces of water (or sports drink) per hour while running, as this could result in hyponatremia. Continue prioritizing hydration throughout your day. This is an important tip not only for running in the summer but also for every day.
The hotter temperatures can cause your heart rate to be higher than usual, so it’s a good idea to monitor your heart rate and its rate of increase. My go-to is the Apple Watch because I can track my running metrics and easily view my heart rate. There are so many apps you can use with the Apple Watch that can provide more metrics and insights about your well-being. Under Armour’s MapMyRun app and Nike’s Run Club are two great options. To ensure your heart rate isn’t increasing too fast, start your workout by running at an easy pace for an extended period of time. After your run, take a five- to 10-minute cool-down walk to allow your heart rate to decrease slowly.
Keep yourself healthy by following these tips, and you’ll enjoy the summer months much more! There’s nothing better than having fun when running, and staying safe is one of the best ways to do that.
About the Author
Stephanie Thomas, CPT is a certified personal trainer, health coach and yoga teacher living in Annapolis, Maryland. As the founder of Stephanie Thomas Fitness and creator of The Bridal Body Workout Guide, she helps brides develop healthy habits and a well-rounded workout routine they’re obsessed with. When she’s not creating workouts for her clients, you can find Stephanie reading the latest health book, spending time in nature or taking a walk with her two cavalier pups. You can grab her free Bridal Arms Mini Guide and sign up for her free wellness newsletter (featuring fun freebies!) on her website.