You open the door and start sweating before you take a single step. Within 15 minutes, your body temperature has risen 15 degrees. Go running in the summer without taking precautions against the heat, and you'll likely start feeling symptoms such as muscle cramps, weakness, headache and fatigue. Eventually, you could develop full-blown heatstroke — the consequences of which can include vomiting, fainting and collapse. It can even be life-threatening.
Fortunately, you can take precautions to beat the heat before your run even begins. Keep cool while running in the summer by using these safeguards to protect yourself:
Watching the weather. Look beyond the temperature to the heat stress index, which factors in humidity. For example, 90 degrees with 50 percent humidity feels like 96 degrees, raising the risk of heat cramps and heat exhaustion. If the risk is high, consider delaying your run or staying indoors.
Timing it right. Early mornings and late evenings tend to be cooler, so schedule your run for these hours if possible. Stick to shady routes to avoid the sun's harsh glare, and always wear sunscreen.
Dressing appropriately. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of moisture-wicking fabric. New Balance Ice apparel features exclusive technology that cools down as you start sweating, and even provides protection against harmful UV rays.
Hydrating carefully. Dehydration increases your risk of heat-related illness because your body cools as sweat evaporates from your skin. Plus, it makes your run feel much more difficult. Drink plenty of water, starting before you even feel thirsty — about 7–10 ounces every 15–20 minutes is a good place to start. If you're heading out on a long run or a speed workout, consider a water infused with electrolytes to replace what you'll sweat out.
Understanding the risk. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, check with your doctor before running in the summer heat. Everyone should know the warning signs of heat illness — the most serious of which include rapid heartbeat, confusion, fainting and profuse sweating — and what to do if you experience them. Find a shady, cool place (or better yet, go indoors to the air conditioning), drink fluids, take a cool shower and seek medical attention should symptoms persist longer than 30 minutes.
The good news: Over time, running in the summer becomes easier and safer. Your body begins to acclimate to the heat after about 10 days. If you start slowly, increase your time and intensity gradually, and take steps to protect yourself from heat illness, then you'll be able to continue your regular running routine even in the dog days.