Running in the Heat

It’s summertime in Toronto and that means running in the heat. High temperatures and humidity, combined with a blazing sun can make for some less than enjoyable running, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do a few things to mitigate the effects.
IMG_2444Here are some tips for those facing some hot summer runs:

  • Run earlier or later in the day: If you like the morning runs, get out there before the sun comes up and the heat really builds in. If you are a late-day runner, delay your run until closer to sundown (or even after sunset, if you can) and avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Ease back on the pace (and the distance): Slow it down a bit and consider cutting the length short too. Running in the heat takes more effort so you’ll get the same effect running 80% of the scheduled distance, or at a slower pace than usual. Don’t risk heat exhaustion by pushing it too hard or running too far in the heat.
  • Plan cooler routes: Think about the sun and the winds and plan out a route that affords protection from the blazing rays. For us in Toronto that means east/west routes around midday where the south side of the street is generally shady. Early or late day runs can be north/south as the sun is lower and you’ll find shade on the east or west side of the street. You might also consider running along the lake where it tends to be cooler, although sometimes that might mean less shade.
  • Stay hydrated: Fill your bottle up with ice and then water and drink it at regular intervals. Don’t wait until you are thirsty – keep ahead of dehydration. After your run make sure you drink an extra bottle of water to get re-hydrated so you don’t risk a headache later in the day. Sip water throughout the day if you are planning to head out later. But don’t over-hydrate as too much water can throw off your sodium and potassium levels in a dangerous way.
  • Dress smart: That doesn’t always mean shorts and a singlet or tank top. It means light colours, thinner shirts and a good hat. And don’t forget to put on the suncreen too.

Summer running in the heat can be enjoyable if you take a few steps to account for the effects that hot temperatures can have on your body. Run smart and if it gets too hot and humid, make sure you do the right thing and consider whether you really need to run in the extreme heat.