May 31, 2011

Summer Running: Tips to Keep Your Running Regimen Active

Any runner living outside the Arctic Circle knows that summer running involves a special kind of preparation and planning. As the summer months approach, it’s important to know what to expect and how to prepare for that gruesome heat.

1. Hydrating

Water, water, water! If you plan on running in the summer heat, it is crucial that you keep yourself hydrated to retain normal body temperature and fluid levels. Consume water before, during and after your run. It’s important that you also consume a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes. Fuel Belts are a huge breakthrough in performance hydration. Many runners find them a necessity for a hot summer run.

As a summer runner, it is important to know the signals and procedures for dehydration or heat stroke. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), signs of dehydration include: extreme thirst, dry mouth, lack of sweating, confusion or delirium, dark urine, dry and inelastic skin, or fever. NIH lists common signs of heat stroke as: headache, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, seizures, fever, hallucinations or rapid heartbeat.

If you start feeling any of these symptoms, you should stop running immediately and stay calm. You should get to a cool place, drink water and rest. If symptoms persist or worsen within 20 minutes, you should seek medical help.

2. Finding the Right Time

If you want the most pleasant and highest performing run, you should try to do your workout during the coolest time of the day. These cooler hours are in the early morning or late evening. Mornings are the coolest, but tend to be more humid.

Summer runners should try to avoid running between noon and 3pm when the sun is the strongest. Overexposure to the sun makes you much more prone to dehydration or even heat stroke.

3. Finding the Right Running Apparel

One of the easiest ways to stay cool on those hot runs is to find the right running apparel. Light colored clothing, loose fitting running tops allow ventilation and airflow will help keep you cool. Breathable shoes will also keep you cool while running.

It's also important to wear sunscreen and a shirt such as the Mizuno Rider Tee. This breathable shirt will keep you cool and also has a UPF of 15 to prevent sunburn.

It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses to avoid eye damage and squinting, which overtime can lead to headaches.

4. Dieting Correctly

In addition to drinking more water, you should incorporate certain things to your diet so you’ll be at your best while running. Stay away from alcohol and caffeine as these are diuretics which cause you to urinate more frequently, thus taking away some of your body’s natural fluids. As your body loses fluids through sweating, you lose more energy. Therefore, you should incorporate electrolytes and carbohydrates into your diet, which can be found in sport drinks and salty foods.

5. Use Common Sense

One of the easiest and most important things you can do as a summer runner is use your common sense! If there is a heat advisory or you think it’s just too hot, do not do your hardest workout. If you have the proper swim gear you can swim laps instead of running that day. If you want to have an easier day, try going on a power walk with a suitable pair of running shoes. Some runners opt for an indoor track or treadmill on incredibly hot days.

Now GO!

Allowing your body to gradually adjust to the summer heat is how you will stay on your regimen and not get burnt out. Be realistic about your goals, times and pace, and don’t push yourself harder than you should. Know beforehand that running in the summer heat can be challenging. In these conditions, you will not perform as highly. Know this before going and don’t beat yourself up during the adjustment period.

Even though running in the summer heat can seem unpleasant and even dangerous, if you use precaution and common sense, you should have no problem getting in the best shape of your life come September.

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