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How to keep running during the hot summer months

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(Photo/Creative Commons)

(Photo/Creative Commons)

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]etween July and August this summer, AccuWeather estimates five days that will be in the seventies, while the rest will consistently reach the mid-eights and beyond. With high temperatures, a beating sun, and humidity, it’s time to start thinking about the ways to maintain that awesome running routine you’ve kept up during this extremely short spring season.

But even if you haven’t yet embarked on that workout routine you need in order to acquire or maintain that healthy lifestyle you’ve been seeking, here are some tips from the experts that already have.

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Words from Brandon Threats, The Track Athlete:

How often do you train in the summer and what are some techniques you use during practice or otherwise to continue running when it’s so hot out?

I train about three times a week outdoors during the summer. In terms of techniques, I stay hydrated. You need to stay hydrated most importantly. If you run dehydrated, you’re going to start throwing up because it’s so hot out. You also have to make sure you eating something before, because when it’s hot out there, it drains you more than anything else. Especially if you’re running long distance or plenty of repetitions for a race, it can get really bad out there. After every rep I take a sip of water. Even throughout the day before you run you need to make sure you stay hydrated, have something in your stomach as well.

What’s the difference between taking small sips of water and chugging water to stay hydrated?

Taking little sips of water is always better. Large amounts of water take longer for your body to process—all that water is just going to sit in your stomach if you just chug it.

What about apparel? What do you wear when it’s so hot out?

I wear compression shorts and a tank top. If it’s super hot, I won’t wear a shirt at all. When it’s so hot out you need to keep it simple. I always dress in layers though because you can always take off layers, but you’ll never know if it’ll start raining or there will be a draft.

What precautions does your team take as a whole when you’re running outside—what do you guys do differently outside than you do inside during summer training?

We try to practice towards the end of the day—around 6 p.m. You don’t want to practice around noon when the temperature is at its peak—you won’t get the same results out of it because you’ll be so drained.  We wait until the end of the day when it’s much cooler. We also have much more water or Gatorade on hand so we can constantly hydrate.

It’s supposed to be an average of 80-85 degrees this summer. Are you looking forward to training in the heat?

Oh yeah, that’s perfect. I like it around 80-85 because then at the end of the night it’ll be in the 70’s. When you’re running you want to be super warm, so when it’s warm like that it’s easier to stay loose. My coach always says to treat you body like a car—you wouldn’t go 40 miles per hour right off the bat in 40-degree weather. It’s the same concept—warm weather keeps your body warm and muscles loose.

Takeaways: Dress in more layers than you should initially. Stay hydrated with small sips of water rather than large ones. Run towards the end of the day when the sun is either rising or setting, and the temperature is typically at its low.

About Brandon:

Brandon is a junior at DePaul and has been a track Blue Demon since his freshman year. He has ran track since he was 7 years-old and is a short-distance sprinter. Brandon is an exercise science major and would like to be a track coach after graduating.

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Words from Beth Simpson-Hall, The Marathon Trainer:

How often do you run and/or train in the summer?

I average between 50 and 60 miles every week. I do not run every day. I’m a big believer that everybody every runner—I don’t care how talented you are—your body needs a day to recover. Recovery is just as important as training. If you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle—and I don’t care what you do—you have to do something; whether it’s running, swimming. Strength training is particularly important as well, especially for women, because we lose bone mass as we age.

What are some of the potential dangers and respective precautions of running in the summer?

You have to acclimatize to the heat, so in other words, especially in the Midwest where we can have one day that 50 degrees and the next is 80, people will go out and are not acclimated to the heat. It’s something you have to build up to, and you’re body does adapt. Checking the weather before a run is crucial; I think it’s irresponsible not to.

In terms of hydration, I don’t walk outside without a water bottle; you should always have water available. Dehydration is the biggest cause of people ending up in the hospital, particularly in the summer from heat strokes. You’ll always see runners with water bottles attached to their hand or their body, reminding them to keep drinking while they run.

Another thing is salt. When you sweat, you lose sodium. You’ll see runners quite often with salt when they’re running a marathon. You lose a lot of sodium so if you’re not in-taking more sodium than usual, you’re risking altering the sodium levels of your body. Drinking just water will also do the same thing. A lot of runner hydrate days before their run, but that also starts to alter the sodium content of your body. You have to counteract that. I don’t normally add salt to my food because a lot of the food we eat already contains enough sodium, but a few meals before a run I might add a little extra.

And then there’s sun screen of course because we don’t want to end up with melanoma. It’s the time to start putting sun screen on before a run.

How about apparel? What’s best to wear during the summer?

I recommend moisture wicking material (material that draws sweat to the skin and allows sweat to evaporate). If the sweat isn’t evaporating it can cause irritation. High-tech fabrics certainly cost more than cotton, but if you buy one or two and take care of them, they last for a long time. Furthermore, I recommend lighter colors in the heat. White as opposed to the darker colors like black that attract the sun.

I also wear a sun hat to block the sun from my face and I always wear sunglass for eye protection. Even on the lake front, wind and things like that can irritate the eye and so I usually recommend getting sunglasses to run with.

What are some of the benefits of running in the summer?

I honestly don’t believe in there being any benefits to running in any particular season. You can run year-round, you just have to have the right clothing. There’s no bad weather, just bad preparation. So I really don’t think there are any benefits to running in the summer, there are just different precautions you have to take to be safe.

Takeaways: Hydration is crucial, but sodium intake/loss is something to be aware of. Rest is just as important as dedication. Apparel can make or break you—running in materials that allow sweat to evaporate will help you in the long-run. Be aware of the weather not only when you first start running, but what it will be like towards the middle and end of your run as well.

About Beth:

Beth has been at The Ray a little more than three years. She is from Milwaukee, where she ran her own physical therapy and personal training studio for 25 years. Beth is an ultra-runner herself (meaning she runs long distances of typically at least 26 miles) and trains runners from 5k to 100-mile races.

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Words from Reid Mutschler, The Casual Runner:

How often do you run during the summer?

I probably run between one and three times a week. I typically like to run towards the beach and I occasionally run downtown, to navy pier and sometimes up north to Wrigleyville area.

How do you maintain your running routine throughout the summer?

I usually try and pick routes that I know have working water fountains and that have at least four or five water fountains there and back so that I can stay hydrated. I also make sure to run on routes where I know will have spot that I can rest if I need to, particularly under shade. I also like to run at night sometimes or in the rain when it isn’t as hot.

What precautions do you take when going for a run during a particularly hot day?

I always like to make sure that I stay well hydrated even before going on the run and that I’ve had enough to eat that day so that I am not light headed especially because of the heat.

What advice do you have for summer runners that might be just starting out?

My advice to those who are just starting to run in the summer would be to take it easy. Start with one kilometer at a time and don’t embark on a five mile run on your first day out.

Takeaways: Run on routes that you know you can stop to hydrate, rest, or cool down. Run during opportune times when the weather isn’t as hot, such as at night. Hydration before is just as important as hydration during.

About Reid:

Reid is a post-DePaul Graduate and now works as a transaction real estate staff member at Ernst and Young. He likes to run before or after work and on the weekends as a way to relieve stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Reid also enjoys playing basketball, weight-training, and making homemade pizzas.

You’ve heard it from the experts themselves. Thinking about apparel, weather, hydration and rest are not only going to help to keep you running longer, but these variables are crucial in hot weather in order to ensure your own safety.

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re an expert yourself, like Beth said, “There is no bad season for running.” Don’t let the heat be an excuse for not getting out there this summer. Instead, take their advice and prepare yourself adequately. Buy some new apparel, find a fun destination point, or start by searching the internet for a visual of the results you’re looking for. Whatever you do to get motivated, with all of this great advice, the only thing stopping you this season would be yourself.

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