Beat the heat, run inside

July 19, 2013

With the recent heat wave, running outside can test even hearty endurance runners. When the temperatures start to approach the high 90s, many runners will have to truly push themselves in order to get through a run. However, while you might think of it as a challenge, trying to run in extreme heat without proper preparation can offer far more risks than it does potential benefits. There is serious danger to taking a long run in the sun, and for many, it may just be best to play things safe. There’s no shame in retiring inside to your TRUE Fitness home treadmill, especially when outside conditions won’t allow you to perform at your usual level. 

If you can’t resist an outdoor run on a hot and humid day, follow these tips to get the most out of your workout and make sure your body doesn’t punish you for it later.

Needless to say, hydration is a huge concern with running in hot climates, especially in direct sunlight. Always pre-hydrate with a few glasses of water before you even go outside and allow your system to digest the liquid before you start pushing your limits. Your body will be working overtime to cool you down when you exercise in extreme temperatures, so be sure to give it a head start. Regularly drink water throughout your run to make sure you’re maintaining healthy levels, and after you’ve finished, try to get back in a cool area. Design a circular route so that by the time you’re truly exhausted you can start getting your body back to stasis as soon as possible. However, air conditioning isn’t enough to replenish your reserves – you’ll need to drink a healthy amount of water then as well. Only then will you have truly recovered.

Even with all this water, you still have to worry about the rest of your body. Sunscreen is recommended whenever you’re in the sun for extended periods, as well as electrolyte and salt levels that are sometimes overlooked in favor of basic hydration. If you can, avoid direct sunlight by taking routes that bring you through the shade, and try to run in the early morning when temperatures are at their lowest of the day.

Overall, the one true key to surviving a hard run in the heat is listening to your body. Finishing the last mile isn’t worth heat stroke or severe dehydration. If you know you can’t take anymore, don’t push yourself. You’ll be glad you lived to run another, hopefully cooler, day. But if things don’t cool down, it’s probably best to stick to the home treadmill, where you can stay hydrated and perform without worrying about the sun beating down.