It’s no secret that I love warm weather. I wait
not so patiently through all the cold, overcast, gloomy days for the warm, beautiful, sunny ones. And now that they’re here, I’m soaking it up as much as I can.
As much as I love, love, love warm weather and being able to wear shorts and tanks to run instead of long sleeves, a jacket, arm sleeves, fleece lined tights, plus gloves and ear-muffs (because doesn’t that sound fun?), there are times when my running begins to be affected by the weather. And not just my running, but yours, too. One thing I don’t love? Heat index.
Heat Index, Hydration, and Staying Safe
When the temperatures rise and we physically exert ourselves — with yard work, playing ball, or running, to name a few — our body temperatures rise as well. When our temperatures rise, our body reacts by cooling it — with sweat. When we sweat excessively (which is a good thing because we need to cool our bodies!) and lose a lot of fluids, we can quickly become dehydrated.
It’s important to run with water or a sports drink readily available during the hot summer months. It’s equally as important to hydrate well both before and after running, too.
Replacing lost fluids will not only help you feel better and keep you healthy, but it will help you run well, too.
Another thing to keep an eye on during the summer is the heat index. I’ve touched on this before, but heat index is similar to the windchill factor, just opposite. So if it’s 39˚ but the winds are 14-15 mph, it will “feel like” 29˚. That’s a big temperature jump, and you would dress accordingly. In the summer we use the heat index which adjusts the “feels like” temperature based on relatively humidity. The higher the humidity, the warmer it feels outside. Check out this graph:
Do you see where the “extreme caution” area begins? That means on any given day, if it’s 86˚ outside and there’s 70% humidity, the temperature feels like it’s 95˚! That’s a pretty substantial difference. Similarly, if it’s 86˚ the next day but it rained, for example, and now the humidity is only 40%, it “feels like” 85˚ instead. Thankfully we have this graph to help us because it’s a handy tool when planning summer runs.
How do you use this information when you’re running and training in the summer?
Check the weather before you head out and compare it to the chart. Another good way to determine your comfort level is to do it the old fashioned way – go outside.
I also can’t stress this enough — run with water! I ran on Tuesday with my daughter in the stroller — a quick 4-miler. I had a water bottle and energy chews. And because it was hot and humid, I only made it 3 miles. I drank water several times while I was running, too.
Another one that I keep repeating — run in the morning before the sun has gotten a chance to bake the planet. Trust me, it’s cooler in the morning!
Above all else, listen to your body. Checking the heat index, running with hydration, and in the morning hours really will do you no good if you feel bad. If you’re slogging along and the heat/humidity is too much, there’s no shame in calling it early. There will be more times to run, cooler days for hard workouts, and there’s truly no sense in endangering yourself just because you’ve got a run on your schedule.
That’s my mama bird advice for the day. Whatever happens – stay safe out there, y’all. Safety first!
TALK TO ME!
What’s your favorite way to rehydrate after a hot, summer run?
What’s your favorite non-running summer activity? I love hiking and canoeing!