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10 Ways to Cool Down Your Summer Runs

By Jennifer Van Allen, Runner's World
July 18, 2013; 8:05 AM ET

Walking or running through the summer doesn't have to leave you feeling wilted. Here's everything you need to know.

Because of the heat and humidity, most people wouldn't pick summer as their favorite season for outdoor exercise. Spring or fall normally wins that honor. But summer does have a lot going for it. More daylight before and after work means more time to get outside. What's more, with all the swimming, lawn mowing, gardening, hiking, and vacations, it's easier to be more active in the summer, so your fitness level is higher. Here's everything you need to know to help you optimize your hot-weather workouts.

Make adjustments. Don't do long or higher-intensity workouts during the heat of the day. If you must run at midday, pick routes with shade. As a general rule, start your workout slower than you usually do. If you're feeling good halfway through, it's okay to speed up a little bit.

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Wear as little as possible. Wear apparel that's light in color, lightweight, and has vents or mesh. Microfiber polyesters and cotton blends are good fabric choices. Also, be sure to wear a hat, shades, and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Watch your alcohol and meds. Alcohol, antihistamines, and antidepressants can all have a dehydrating effect. Using them just before a run can make you have to pee, compounding your risk of dehydration.

Drink early and often. Top off your fluid stores with 16 ounces of sports drink an hour before you head out. Then toss down five to eight ounces of sports drink about every 20 minutes while working out. Sports drinks beat water because they contain electrolytes, which increase your water-absorption rate, replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat, and taste good, making it easy to drink more.

RELATED: 9 Golden Rules of Hydration

Be patient. Give yourself eight to 14 days to acclimatize to hot weather, gradually increasing the length and intensity of your training. In that time, your body will learn to decrease your heart rate, decrease your core body temperature, and increase your sweat rate.

Seek grass and shade. It's always hotter in cities than in surrounding areas because asphalt and concrete retain heat. If you must run in an urban or even a suburban area, look for shade-any park will do-and try to go in the early morning or late evening.

Check the breeze. If possible, start your run going with the wind and then run back with a headwind. Running into the wind has a cooling effect, and you'll need that in the second half of a run.

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By Jennifer Van Allen, Runner's World

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