Running in the Heat

BY: The Big Peach Running Co. Suwanee Team

Summer is here in Atlanta and if you’re a child on summer break, then that may mean trying to keep cool at the pool as often as possible. If you’re a runner, however, the tasks of keeping cool and adjusting to the summer swelter and stifling humidity can be challenging. Below are some considerations for your summer training to maximize enjoyment while keeping those southern running discomforts at bay.

First up – apparel! Especially in the summer when sweating is at a premium, it’s critical to choose quality synthetic fabrics because of their ability to allow moisture to evaporate rapidly. Quality running apparel is generally very light on the skin and the moisture-wicking capabilities will reduce the risk of chafing. You’ll also get some protection from the sun’s rays.

Sunscreen_optSpeaking of chafing, let’s dive into that sensitive subject for a moment. Chafing is the result of friction on the skin’s surface over a period of time. For women, chafing is very common under the arms and around the bust line. For men, it’s very common on the inner thighs and chest and everyone is susceptible to blisters on the feet. How is this prevented? Using an anti-chafing lubricant such as RunGuard or Body Glide will help tremendously in the fight against skin abrasion. Especially if you’re a heavy sweater, you just need to apply very liberally in the areas of concern and voila!

A consideration that is often overlooked but is vitally important is sunscreen. It’s recommended to use a higher SPF (30+) and don’t cheat yourself. Apply to the tops of ears, nose, tops of the shoulders and certainly don’t forget to cover the skin slightly underneath the edges of your clothing.

Try to run in the coolest part of the day. The humidity is rough in Atlanta anyway but it’s wise to get your run finished early in the morning or at/after sunset so you can avoid, to the greatest extent possible, the combination of heat and humidity. Despite the moisture in the air, it will be cooler at those times of day and your run will be made a bit more comfortable.

In the early going of summer running, listen well to your body as it will need some time to acclimate to the heat. This means your pace will likely slow a bit but do not worry. Given a little time (perhaps a couple of weeks), you should find yourself getting back into the groove as your adjust to the warmer temperatures. During that time, make it a point to run by effort instead of trying to stick with a certain pace and don’t be afraid to take short walk breaks if you feel sluggish. The heat has a way of draining runners very quickly. Just stick with it and have confidence that it will pass.

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Lastly, and most importantly, here are three words… Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Acclimating to the heat is difficult enough but without adequate hydration, runners really set themselves up for difficulty. A good rule of thumb is to drink in fluid ounces (on a daily basis) half of your body weight in water to maintain an adequate level of hydration. This means a 130lb female runner should be drinking at least 65oz of water daily and a 210lb male runner should be drinking at least 105oz daily.

As runners sweat, not only are they losing water that needs to be replaced, they are also losing electrolytes that must also be replaced to keep their bodies running smoothly. For runners, it’s a good idea to supplement a daily hydration strategy by mixing an electrolyte solution into one of your water bottles each day. During the run, the rule of thumb is to drink 4-6oz of fluid every 20 minutes. Everyone is different and will have varying needs when it comes to fluid intake but the lesson is to drink at regular intervals and, for longer runs (10 miles and up), be sure to alternate with water and a sports drink (or another form of electrolyte replacement) so you avoid cramping issues. A couple of other tricks to consider… especially for those with longer hair, consider soaking your head for a moment with cold water before going out for a run to help you feel a little cooler in the early going. Also, for any fluid you drink just before going out for your run, put ice in it so it’s really cold going down. Great way to start the run!

Come and see us at Big Peach Running Co. in Suwanee Town Center Park! This is our passion and we love this community so bring all of your questions; we’re ready and eager to answer them! Happy running!

*Suwanee Big Peach Runners meet at Suwanee Town Center Park every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30pm for free Group Runs. All ages and ability levels are welcome for the 1, 4 or 6 mile walk/runs.

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