Being a runner means spending your workout time outdoors, and learning how to stay safe no matter what the day’s weather throws at you.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week I’ll be sharing a few tips to help you run smart when the weather decides it doesn’t want to cooperate.
One of the best things about running is that it gives you a great reason to get outside for a while. We could all use a little more sunshine and fresh air in our lives, and by choosing a workout routine that doesn’t keep you confined to the gym, you get to enjoy the outdoors while you get your miles in. However, it also means that you’ll often find yourself at the mercy of the elements.
Sticking to a consistent fitness schedule means learning to deal with whatever the day’s weather happens to be, and planning your run accordingly. Learning how to run safely in the heat, humidity, and rain is crucial since each of these scenarios has the potential to cause illness or injury for even a seasoned runner.
Heat and humidity are two things Floridians are very familiar with, so you probably already have an idea of how to take care of yourself on hot days, and the impact the humidity index can have on an already sweltering temperature. Running smart means recognizing the limitations hot weather will place on your body, and figuring out how to work around those limitations.
Hydration is critical when temperatures soar. You’ll need to make sure you hydrate well before you head out, and keep on hydrating at least every twenty minutes during your run. Sports drinks are a better option than water here since water doesn’t contain the sodium and electrolytes your body is losing while you’re sweating under the sun. Wearing light-colored and lightweight clothing is also crucial, and anything with mesh or ventilation is a great choice. Sunglasses, a hat, and lots of sunscreen are also necessities. Remember to reapply your sunscreen frequently, since you’ll be sweating it off faster while running than if you were relaxing.
Sticking to shaded paths and avoiding running on asphalt – which traps heat – will help you stay cooler, and if there is a breeze for you to take advantage of, put it to work for you. Start your run with the wind behind you, so that when you start to loop back around for the second half of your run, you’ve got a nice breeze to help cool you down.
Remember that humidity doesn’t just make the day feel hotter, it makes it harder for your body to cope with the heat. Humidity keeps sweat from evaporating from your skin, making your core temperature rise faster and putting you at a higher risk of heat stroke or other heat-related complications. Be extra cautious when humidity is high, and if you have no choice but to run during the day, make sure you take it slow and call it quits at the first sign you’re overheating. Adjust your route or running routine as needed to handle high humidity days better.
The best way to avoid all of these potential issues would be to run early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is nowhere in sight. You’ll still need to be mindful of hydration, but the cooler temperatures will make for a more comfortable run. Running at night has its own pitfalls, however. If you’re running in the dark, make sure you’re wearing reflective clothing, are in a well-lit area, and are extra aware of your surroundings at all times. Swap your headphones for a small flashlight for a safer and more productive run.
Running in the rain takes the same kind of awareness and planning as running in the heat. Wet weather requires you to adjust your clothing choices, opting for moisture-wicking fabrics and avoiding cotton, which absorbs water and weighs you down. This goes for your choice of headwear, too. You’ll still want a hat with a peak to keep the rain out of your eyes, but you’re much better off trading your favorite ball cap for a runners’ hat that won’t soak up the rain.
Pay attention to your surroundings to avoid deceptively-deep puddles that can leave you with scrapes and sprains, and don’t forget to bring your water bottle. Just because you’re wet from the rain, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate. The conditions might make it feel like you’re not as dehydrated as you’d normally be, but that’s not the case. Even smart runners can sometimes make that mistake.
Keep an eye on the weather, and adjust your running routine as needed to get the most out of your run without jeopardizing your health or safety. Making sure you can get back out there tomorrow means making smart choices today.