Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Running tips to beat the heat

This week's BWL column has some advice to make those who keep running in the heat of summer as safe and comfortable as possible.

News-Press "Go Coastal" BikeWalkLee Column, June 22, 2016 

In case you hadn’t noticed, summer arrived with a vengeance. The heat starts early and the rain follows along later, making outdoor activities a little more challenging.

Our climate shouldn’t chase you inside, but it does mean you need to make adjustments and plan ahead to keep cool(er) and safe – particularly since we have such a stretch of heat, sometimes even reaching dangerous heat indexes (which is a good reason to be careful or even head inside that day).

From a variety of sources, some tips for running in the heat (they work for walking as well):

(Photo: Sarah Coward/
Make adjustments: Don’t do long or higher-intensity workouts during the heat of the day. Go early (cooler but more humid) or late (warmer and better chance for rain) instead. Whatever the time, pick routes with shade. As a general rule, start your workout slower than you usually do. If you’re feeling good halfway through, it’s okay to speed up a little bit.

Wear as little as possible: Wear apparel that’s light in color, lightweight, and has vents or mesh. Microfiber polyesters and cotton blends are good fabric choices. Also, think about wearing a hat, shades, and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for further protection.

Drink early and often: Top off your fluid stores with 16 ounces of water or a sports drink an hour before you head out. Then toss down five to eight ounces about every 20 minutes while working out. Pick the liquid that works best for you; sports drinks often beat water because they contain electrolytes, which increase your water-absorption rate, replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat, and taste good, making it easy to drink more (important on long runs). Also watch your alcohol and meds: Alcohol, antihistamines and antidepressants can all have a dehydrating effect.

Be cool. Keep it cold to keep your cool… colder liquids help lower your core body temperature from the inside, and dumping a little water on you mid-run can help your skin temperature feel less hellish (as long as your clothing cooperates). A little rain might not even hurt – as long as there’s no lightning on the horizon.

Check the breeze: If possible, start your run going with the wind and then run back with a headwind. Running into the wind has a cooling effect, and you’ll need that in the second half of a run. Also running on asphalt after a hot day won’t be too cool, since the surface holds the heat. If you run after a rain, it can help... or look for a grassy route.

Slow down: Every 5-degree rise in temperature can slow your pace by as much as 20 to 30 seconds per mile. So don’t fight it - just slow down (you’ll get the pace back when it cools off).

Run in water: Substitute your outdoor walk or run with a pool-running session of the same duration. If you’re new to pool running, use a flotation device and simply move your legs as if you were running on land, with a slightly exaggerated forward lean and vigorous arm pump. Deeper water offers more resistance… and keeps more of you covered in water.

By Ken Gooderham, BikeWalkLee
-- BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County - streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at

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