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Running in the heat: a northern girl’s tricks

running in summer

A post about running in the heat of summer? You might think now in mid-July we’re late to the game on this one, but hear me out.

I’m a northern girl and have only recently acclimated to the 90+ degree temperatures and swampy, humidity levels. So, if you’re anything like me, a few tips might help salvage the season from being a total failure training-wise.
At least we can hope!

Here are five ways I’m keeping consistent in this heatwave.

  1. Of course we all try to avoid the heat of mid-day by running in the early AM or late evening hours, but if you just can’t make that schedule work (I can only occasionally) — try shifting your running route instead. I plod totally different paths in the summer months, ducking into random streets to find the most optimal shaded areas. I seek out those houses with their sprinkler systems running, too. It’s helpful to wear a watch if you’re going to dive in and out of “normal” territory to keep track of distance.
  2. I also plan plenty of rest areas (under trees and the like) and have mentally noted all the water stops in my neighborhood. Be creative here. Parks are a natural with publicly accessible water fountains. Have you ever thought of stopping into a grocery store or hospital? Maybe not — but do it! It might be embarrassing to be sweaty, smelly, and gross, but that cold water is always worth it.
  3. Run short and work your way up. This is a good method if you are having trouble setting foot outside at all. Any run is better than no run is a mantra I use when even triple digits show on our thermometer. So, short and sweet is good and summer can even be a good time to experiment with twice-a-day workouts, giving you time to hydrate and cool down between sessions.
  4. Instead of cutting your runs short, go slower. Or leave your watch at home. I know for a fact that I can’t keep pace when the temperature and humidity soar. In the summer months, then, I tend to focus more on mileage versus speedwork and meeting lofty PR goals.
  5. Just run. Often. Eventually you will get used to it. Promise. Sounds much easier than it might be in practice, but sometimes just diving in and sticking to it is the best thing you can do. After a while, as with everything else, it will get at least somewhat more comfortable. (Maybe a better word is tolerable.)

No matter what you end up doing, it’s worth trying to acclimate yourself. At very least try some treadmill workouts for the worst days to stay active. And be sure to stay hydrated and slathered in a good sunscreen. Here are some other common summer running problems and solutions.

Written by  Ashley Marcin.