It is no secret that running in heat can be serious business and can cause you to suffer from heat exhaustion, which leads straight into the subject of this article.
So what exactly happens to your body when running in heat? First of all your overall body temperature goes up. If you are working too much or dark clothing than your body temperature will rise at a higher rate plus your body will tell you to slow down by as much as 20-30 seconds per mile according to an article in Runners World that was written by Jennifer Van Allen. The same article also suggests that it can also dehydrate you, so if you choose to run in the heat you may want to bring more water than usual and is especially important if you want to be able to run faster.
So now that we know that running in the heat slows you down and increases your body temperature, on to the next question. What can be done about it? A couple of things: Spray water on yourself while running; run in a shaded area; bring a towel and lastly pay attention to what you wear. Here is a breakdown of why each of these strategies are advantageous and what to consider:
Spray water on yourself
Unless you know you will be running by a sprinkler you can conveniently run under without trespassing you will need to bring extra water for this one. You also need to make sure the water you are spraying on yourself is cold so that way it will actually cool you down. This is especially important during a long run. If you are going long you need to load the liquid up with ice ahead of time.
Run in a shaded area or by a body of water
A convenient truth is that the temperatures are not exactly the same everywhere. Typically if you live under a lot of trees, by a body of water or even on the side of a mountain the temperatures are going to be cooler. While it is certainly not a one size fits all solution to running in the heat it will certainly help.
Pay attention to what you wear
This one can make a fairly warm day turn into an unbearably hot day. If it is 90 and sunny obviously you aren’t going to wear dark sweatpants and a hoodie. Your best bet is to wear light colored clothing and dress for the weather to be 15-20 degrees warmer than what the temperature is. Even on a cool day after you’ve been running a while your body’s temperature will significantly rise.
Bring a towel
As you sweat you will feel warmer. Wiping your sweat off with a towel won’t completely help with your body temperature necessarily, but you won’t feel, as hot if your not as sweaty, so this one is more of a psychological thing.
It should also be noted that none of these ideas are full proof and you should always take the proper precautions when running in the heat. Any of the above ideas will make running in the heat more bearable.