Beat the Heat — If You’re Running Outdoors

Here are a few suggestions to help you cool, when the going gets hot.

Get up early.

Even if it’s 78 degrees at 5:30 a.m., like it was in many Southern locales last week, it’s better than the alternative – even higher temps and humidity later in the day. Give yourself a realistic goal, getting up 2 days/week, for example, and try to find a running partner. Having someone else hold you accountable makes it much harder to press the snooze button.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Drink at least eight ounces of fluids before you get moving, and continue drinking a few sips every 15 minutes. Make sure you replenish afterwards, too.

Don’t leave home without it.

A water bottle, that is. Even if you aren’t running for hours on end, you don’t want to take any chances. Stick to the 15 minute rule (see above), or imbibe even more frequently if you are feeling especially parched. If you don’t drink it yourself, share with your dog or squirt it on your body (assuming it’s water, that is).

Slow down.

You’re not meant to be a speed demon when it’s really hot outside. Slow down your pace, and avoid risking any heat-related problems. You’re not going to get out of shape by slowing down a few weeks, or even months, out of the year.

Walk a little.

Much like my strategy in the Boston Marathon this year, if you walk for about 30 seconds after every mile or so, you’ll be able to slow down your heart rate and keep your body temperature in check.

Borrow a sprinkler.

When the thermometer rises, neighborhood sprinklers are a free-for-all, at least in my opinion. A fresh mist of cold water will cool you down and keep you more comfortable. How much harm can it be to run through someone else’s yard anyway?

Grab some ice.

Ice placed beneath a hat or stuffed down a shirt won’t stay ice forever, but it will keep you happy (and cooler!) while it melts.

Freeze a bandana.

As Kristina Pinto suggested in a blog post I wrote about helpful gadgets, place a bandana under water and then put in a freezer about 45 minutes before your run. If you tie the cold bandana around your neck, it helps make the heat more bearable.

Protect your pooch.

If you run with a dog, don’t forget that he needs water, too. Make sure he has somewhere to grab a drink, or even swim, if possible.

Wear breathable clothes.

Though I’m guessing you won’t put on your merino wool if it’s 90 degrees outside, make sure you’re wearing fabrics that wick away moisture. In fact, wear as little as possible – -without creating any major fashion faux pas.

Melinda Hinson