How to: Survive Summer Running
I get it, it's HOT with a capital "HOT" throughout the country right now.
(If you are in the UK especially I know y'all are dealing with record temps). It can be extremely difficult to get outside during these hotter months but I'm here to tell you that you still need to do it!
Treadmills are a life saver AND also similar to a medieval torture device. I am not a huge treadmill lover but I do see the merit in them nonetheless. While I am all for cranking out the miles in the air condition it is not the end all be all. Treadmill lovers: hear me out before you send me hate mail. Treadmills can help with speed work, and consistency, and allow you to get your runs in when there is no other option. BUT, treadmills are indoors. You can control the speed, conditions, and basically everything. If you are planning to race outside at any point, the treadmill will not prepare you for what you will encounter on race day. Furthermore, the fitness that you gain from battling the outside world can't be beaten.
So, we've established that outdoor running = good, but how do you survive summer running?
The good news is as a Florida runner, I have cracked the code! (At least what my go-to's are) I have put in the blood, (lots of) sweat, and plenty of tears to figure out the dos and don'ts of summer running.
Grab a seat, an ice cold drink, and enjoy!
✅ DO Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Start each morning with a glass of water and buy yourself a big bottle to sip from throughout the day. I prefer a big bottle so I don't have to keep re-filling. I know that as long as I finish 1 or 2 of those bottles I'm set. Plus it's a lot harder to lose track of what I drank.
❌ Don't be scared to run without a shirt. This is something I struggle with as well but we need to work on letting it go. The lightest or least amount of clothing we have on us, the better. We all know that feeling of sweating buckets and feeling the slightest cool breeze coming in. Instantly we are cooled down and feel like a new person. That's a kind of sweats "thing" so let it be free to cool us, people!
✅ DO walk it out! No one gets a gold medal for running their entire run (Unless there is an elite reading this----then obviously just skip on over that part 😉) In all seriousness though, embrace walk breaks. If you see your heart rate creeping up, your form suffering, or just are feeling the fatigue too much, take a 30-sec walk break. There is NO shame in the walking game and doing a run/walk interval is a game changer.
❌ DON'T pick the hottest part of the day to go out on the run. This one MAY seem obvious but I continuously see people out there at noon in the beating sun. If it's absolutely the only time you can go, that's fine but for the love of all that is holy if you can avoid it, avoid it!
❌ DON'T beat yourself up on paces. It can take a few weeks for your body to adjust to the higher temps and humidity. You will naturally slow down during this time but that doesn't mean your fitness is decreasing. Running outside in the summer months will improve your aerobic base and bolster your cardiac health (when done correctly). There is a reason they say that "Fall PRs are made in the summer."
✅ DO bring water on your runs (YES, even short runs!) You don't have to drink the entire thing but use the extra to pour on yourself. Pour some on your head, down your back, in your face, literally wherever. You are already going to be a sweaty hot mess so what some extra water? This will help to keep your temperature down a bit and give you that instant refresh.
✅ DO get creative with your routes. Bribe your kids or your significant other to drive around the neighborhood/town to plan out the shadiest portions, where there are places to stop to refuel, and bonus points if there is a pool or beach at the end to cool down in after the miles are done.
❌ DON'T just hop right in the shower to cool down when you get back home. After the miles are done, walk and cool down for 5 min to let your heart rate/body temp come down. Get a water or electrolyte drink (I prefer Nuun), grab a snack and take a beat. Your recovery will automatically be bolstered and you need to replenish everything you burned because you are working even harder in the heat!
All in all, have FUN with the running! Summer is hard for everyone to get up and out there. Even if your paces suffer, your mileage isn't as long, and you aren't feeling the running love, you are still building undeniable benefits every time you lace up. How do you survive summer running?