Summer is the ideal time to be outside – the days are extra long and there’s plenty of sun. For those exercising outside – especially those training for upcoming half-marathons or marathons this fall — it’s important to take extra precautions to stay safe.
People training for half- and full-marathons need to run several times a week, including one “long” run, that can keep them easily outside for more than an hour or two, depending on speed and distance. Before heading out in any temperature, make sure you stretch and do a light aerobic exercise, such as walking, to warm up your muscles.
Staying hydrated is critical when you’re running in hot and humid weather. A person can easily lose a few pounds of fluid when running on a hot day. If your body doesn’t have enough water, you won’t do your best and it’s also possible to become dehydrated, which can lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion or loss of consciousness.
It’s not easy to run with water, but it’s something you need to do. You can either carry your water in a fuel belt or in a backpack. Another idea is to drive your route ahead of time and leave water at a few key spots – or have a family member or friend meet you along the way with some water. Some people also plan their “long” training runs to coincide with organized training runs, which are usually offered by running organizations, and include water stops.
Use the extra daylight to your advantage and plan your runs early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the full strength of the sun and the day’s heat. If you’re going to be out near dawn or dusk, make sure you’re wearing reflective clothing or have a running lamp to ensure that cars will see you.
What you wear is important when you run or do any kind of exercise. Look for fabrics that wick the sweat away from your body, which will help you stay cooler. Don’t forget your feet – there are also moisture wicking socks, too. As for your head, add a hat since it will keep the sun off your face and the top of your head and keep you cooler. Also before heading out, put on sunscreen (ideally one that’s sweat-proof so you don’t return home with a sunburn.
Once you finish your run, take time to cool off and hydrate. Drink plenty of water and monitor yourself for any signs of dehydration. If you sweat a lot, consider drinking chocolate milk or a sports drink – opt for those without huge amounts of sugar – to help restore your body’s electrolytes.
Running in the summer heat isn’t easy, but it’s doable if you follow the proper precautions.
Kim Kandler is a licensed athletic trainer with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London.