Runners like to remain active and in shape year-round. Sometimes this means strapping on your Yaktrax and thermal clothing to run in the snow, and sometimes it means dealing with the blazing summer sun, triple-digit temperatures, and extreme humidity.
When it comes to summer running, you don't have to worry about issues like frostbite or slipping on ice, but there are still hazards to contend with, such as sunburns, chafing, and heatstroke. In other words, you need to find ways to beat the heat and stay safe when you run in the sun. Here are a few basic safety tips to get you on the right track.
The last thing you want is goopy sunblock dripping down your body, staining your running apparel, and stinging your eyes. Of course, you also don't want to suffer a major sunburn when you're training for a race.
The ideal solution is a sunblock designed to hold up under sport conditions, meaning it will protect you from the sun even as it resists sliding off while you sweat. There are several options to consider on the market, but you're going to want to start by looking for a broad spectrum, UVA/UVB product with a pretty high SPF (50 or above) if you're going to run some distance. This will ensure lasting protection so you don't have to reapply.
Next, you'll probably want to ditch lotions in favor of sprays. These cooling sprays often go on relatively dry and allow you to get maximum coverage, since they can reach areas like your back that you often can't get to with your hands. Spraying them on your face is not generally advised, so seek out a facial sport sunscreen that is designed to stay put and that won't sting your eyes.
When the temperature soars, it's really best to keep clothing to a minimum, especially when you're exerting yourself. You want running garments that are made from lightweight, wick-away material, that have ventilation for air flow, and that aren't going to cling to your body and turn into a soggy mess once you get going.
That said, you can look into SPF clothing designed to help protect runners, and you should definitely consider wearing a hat or visor that protects your face from exposure and your eyes from the glare of the overhead sun.
Chafing is always a concern for runners, but it becomes even more prominent when you're sweating up a storm in the heat of summer. If you have yet to discover the joys of Body Glide, now is the time to pick up a stick and apply it to areas where you frequently suffer chafing or blisters. It's about to become your new best friend.
As any seasoned runner well knows, staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of endurance running. This means making sure you hydrate properly before, during, and after your run, and making adjustments related to outdoor temperatures.
The blazing summer sun can cause you to sweat and lose electrolytes faster than normal, and you need to make sure you properly replenish with water and possibly sports drinks. You should also try to avoid potential sources of dehydration, like drinking alcohol the night before a big run.
The weather may not have a marked effect on how far or how fast you ultimately run, but until you're certain, it's probably best to play it safe and temper your urge to sprint hither and yon. Think about starting out slower than you normally would to make sure your body can handle the added heat. If you feel yourself flagging, you'll know you made the right choice to hold back, and if you feel fine, you can always increase your pace incrementally.
Heatstroke is a serious condition that could become fatal if left untreated, so it's important to know the signs when you're exerting yourself in extreme heat. Some common signs include high body temperature, flushing, rapid breathing, and racing heartbeat, but these are fairly common to running anyway.
When these symptoms are paired with headache, confusion, slurred speech, and/or skin that is hot but not sweaty, you should seek help and get to a hospital immediately. Proper preparation and understanding the signs of heat stroke can help you to avoid serious harm when you run in the blazing hot sun.
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