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Aug 2, 2023

Beat the Summer Heat

After an unseasonably cold June in the Midwest, July definitely came in hot. I had gotten used to running in cooler spring-like temperatures in May and June, but that annual Fourth of July race I always do had me sweating buckets.

What happened? Had I lost fitness? Why was this race so hard after I’d built up so much endurance?

Oh right, the 80-degree heat and 87% humidity at 8:00 a.m. probably had something to do with that. I was not ready for such a quick transition from mild weather.

Now that it’s August, most of us have been running through at least a month of hot weather. Folks down south have been dealing with this for much longer (Bless you – I don’t know how you do it!). We’re all told how important it is to hydrate during the summer, but there are other ideas you can try to help you stay cool when summertime turns up the heat.

Run early. I’m not a morning person, but sometimes when I want to get my steps in safely during the summer, I must become one. It’s much cooler at sunrise, so the weather doesn’t feel as oppressive when I run at 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. Since it gets lighter earlier as well, it’s safer to run in the early mornings during the summer versus the winter, when we might not see daylight until almost 8:00 a.m. Find a high school track or paved path if you want some company – there will be plenty of people with the same idea!

Run late. As a certified night owl, I love being able to do an 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. run knowing that it’s still light outside, and that other night owls will be out running with me too! The sun is setting, so it’s usually cooler outside at this time. This is another one of my favorite things about summer running – I can’t do a solo evening run from November through February because it’s dark at 5:00 p.m. One more benefit of those longer hours – there are more 5K races that take place in the evening during the summer, making it more likely that I’ll sign up!

Find a trail. I’ve talked about the joys of trail running in past blogs, but one major advantage they have over roads is shade. The trees block out the hottest of the sun’s rays, keeping you cool and protecting you from too much exposure. I’ve chosen to head to a trail versus running on the road in the summer when my run is scheduled during some of the hotter times of day, and it can feel more like 70 degrees than 90 degrees when I’m in the woods.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This step starts even before you start running. Drink more water the night before a morning long run, or do so in the morning if you’re running later in the day. Experts suggest drinking 5-10 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during your run. Once you’re done, have more. If you’re planning longer runs, you can look online for more information about hydrating properly, avoiding overhydration (yes, that’s a thing), and using sports/electrolyte drinks and sodium to maintain a proper hydration balance.

Don’t let the heat throw your running goals off this summer. Switch up your usual routine to beat the heat and remember, fall temperatures are around the corner!

By Shannon Shelton Miller /Twitter: ShannonSMWrites, Instagram: shannon.shelton1

Shannon Shelton Miller is a longtime writer and journalist who enjoys writing about sports, fitness, health, beauty, and parenting. She has been running for 27 years, starting from joining her high school cross-country team. She has run a marathon, two half marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races.