Running in the heat

Get out the kiddie pools and umbrellas!  Summer has definitely arrived in Vancouver.  We have had a couple of glorious weeks and everyone is in a better mood for it.  I have to admit, although I do enjoy the sunshine, the heat has sure slowed my running down.  Here are a few tips to keep cool while running during the summer months.

  1. Head out earlier or later.  It's not pleasant having to get up at 5:30 to get your run in but you will feel better afterwards.  And you will definitely be thankful that you did when you are boiling just walking down the street in the middle of the day and couldn't even fathom doing anything strenuous.
  2. Wear light coloured, water wicking clothing.  Dark colours will absorb heat.
  3. Run in the shade.  Change your route so you run on the trails in the parks rather than on exposed streets.  
  4. Keep hydrated.  Drink before and after your run but unless you are going for a longer than 60min run, you probably don't need to take water with you.  There has been a lot of research debunking the myths that lead us to over drink during running and activities in the last decade (see Waterlogged by Dr. Tim Noakes)  Personally, I never carry water with me unless I am running over 12K in the summer.  Even then, I would rather  plan my route so that I go by some water fountains than carry a water bottle.  
  5. Adjust your expectations.  Allow your effort to determine your pace.  You may just not be able to go as hard or as fast as you would in cooler temperatures.

Sometimes, running will just not happen for me in heat like this.  Alternatively, I will run on a treadmill or work out indoors (pool running is another great option) to keep my endurance up until I feel more comfortable heading outdoors again.  Everyone is different, some people love running in heat, that's why they have ultra marathons in Death Valley.  I am not one of those people and I start to wilt when the thermometer hits 20 degrees Celsius.  If you are like me, be sure to take care when running in the heat.  If you would like more information, here's an article that has more details on the risks of running in heat and how to avoid them.