I don't know about you, but I am missing the polar vortex! These past few weeks in Pennsylvania have been brutally humid and hot. Which is fabulous for lazy days at the pool but not so cool for Goofy Challenge training. Ugh.
But, that's the blessing and the curse of summer on the East coast. Luckily, we only have to deal with it for a few months a year. Running can be hard. Running in the crazy heat and humidity can be really hard. So, what can you do to keep running or walking during the summer?
First, let me tell you what NOT to do with a cautionary tale. A few weeks ago, I wanted to get a quick mid-week, 45 minute run in before my Wednesday Weight Watchers meeting at 6 pm. It was 86 degrees but with a high humidity level, the "real feel" was 92.
I started my run and felt great, keeping a nice steady pace of 11:30. I was warm but not too uncomfortable. Around the 30 minute mark, I started to feel nauseous. I slowed down to a walk and tried to ride it out. A few minutes later, I began to feel light-headed and the nausea increased. I had to stop. Sitting down on the curb, I hoped the feeling would pass. It did not. It intensified. So much so that I actually vomited and then laid down in the grass near the sidewalk.
Worried about my well-being, I slowly got up and started walking slowly back towards my house. I just tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and getting back inside to the air conditioning and a glass of water. Finally, I made it back safely. I was shaking.
After some cold water and a few minutes, I started to feel better. But it scared me. It hadn't felt that hot and I'd seen other runners/walkers outside- it didn't seem dangerous to me. But it absolutely was. Heat and humidity can be life-threatening when running or walking- it's important to be cautious when planning outdoor activities.
That being said, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself during the summer heat and humidity. The following is a list of tips that I have made based on my own personal experiences. I am not a physician and what's listed here is not medical advice.
1. Consider staying indoors. Treadmills and indoor tracks can be boring, but are a lot more comfortable (and safe!) than being outside in the sun and heat.
2. Stay hydrated! Your intake of water is important- not just during your run but every day. I try to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day.
3. Wear sunscreen. Often neglected, this one little thing can protect you from the sun's harmful rays and can help keep you cool.
4. Invest in technical fabric workout clothes. By wicking away sweat, tech fabrics help regulate your body temperature in hot weather.
5. Slow down. Jeff Galloway suggests that for every five degrees above 60, you should slow down by 30 seconds per mile. If it's 80 degrees, then that means slowing your pace by a full two minutes per mile.
6. Run early or late. Time your outdoor run or walk to be in the coolest parts of the day- either early in the morning or just after dusk.
7. Avoid blacktop if possible. Summer is a great time to head out on the trail. Not only are there usually a lot of shaded areas, but running on grass or dirt isn't nearly as hot as running on the black asphalt of most roads.
These are just a few of the precautions you can take to ensure a comfortable and safe outdoor workout during the summer months. Runner's World has some additional tips as well as this list from Road Runners Club of America.
QOTD: What would you add to this list? How do you stay cool during summer running or walking?