As temperatures soar across the country, the idea of an afternoon run can seem daunting, not to mention sweaty. It’s possible to keep up your mileage even in the hottest conditions, but there are certain considerations when it’s hot out.
This summer, we’ve armed you with some great strategies for running in the heat, from expert training advice by Under Armour clinical exercise physiologist Jeff Knight to our Ultimate Guide to Running in Heat & Humidity. Today, it’s about the gear and the strategies you need for summertime. We asked Kyle Boorsma, a former pro middle-distance runner and current endurance track coach at Canada’s University of Guelph, for some of his best advice. He just helped several athletes get to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, so if there’s one thing he’s become an expert in, it’s training in heat for racing in heat.
1. DRESS THE PART
Swap out that tight tank top for a loose-fitting top, says Boorsma. Or, better yet, wear as little as possible (while still being decent). Bare skin allows sweat to dry and cool you off faster, but a moisture-wicking material will be almost as good if you prefer a full-coverage style. UA’s ultralight CoolSwitch clothing lines for men and women are perfectly designed to help you shed heat, thanks to a coating on the inside that pulls heat away from your skin, plus a proprietary moisture-wicking system to avoid that post-run “drenched in sweat” look.
2. BE COVERED (FULLY)
Of course, as you decrease the clothing you’re wearing, you’ll need to beef up your sunscreen. Boorsma says sunscreen is always a must. Opt for an athlete-specific sunscreen that can stand up to sweat. If you’re prone to burning or you spend a lot of non-running time outdoors, consider swapping some of your normal clothing for UA’s Sunblock fabric — it’s fuller-coverage but worth it to avoid the burn.
3. START COOL
“There’s a high body temperature you’re trying to avoid,” says Boorsma. “So if you can start with a lower body temperature when you start exercising, that’s going to let you exercise longer and harder.” Try to cool off before your run — Boorsma is a fan of ice water, slushies or popsicles. (Even staying inside in the air conditioning so you don’t start your run already overheated is a smart move.)
4. CHILL OUT
Running in the heat means you may need to slow down, so don’t stress if your miles are taking a few seconds longer than usual. This isn’t always easy. “If you’re looking at your watch for feedback and ignoring what you’re body is telling you, that’s when you get into trouble,” says Boorsma. Your body wants to stay in a certain temperature range, and you need to find a balance between maintaining your running while avoiding overheating and blowing up. “You’ve got to slow your pace down or take more rest between your intervals,” he suggests.
READ MORE > THE 3 TYPES OF RUNS EVERY RUNNER SHOULD DO
5. IS IT DRY OR WET HEAT?
Pay attention to the type of heat: Is it dry or wet out? That will change the way you cool down, since the humidity changes how sweat evaporates to cool you off. In a humid environment, Boorsma says, you’re going to heat up quicker because you’re staying wet as you sweat.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO DRINKING
Track your sweat loss on your next hot run, weighing in before and after your run (and taking into account the amount you drank on the run). The UA Scale, which is Wifi-compatible and syncs with the MapMyRun app, is a fast and accurate way to do this. As you track a few runs, you’ll get a better idea of what your sweat rate is as you run in different temperatures. Then, once you have this information, Boorsma suggests trying to drink about 80% of what you’ll lose to sweat. He cautions runners against overhydrating on hot days: “If you look at what elite marathoners are doing, they’re not finishing the race at the same body weight that they’re starting. They’re not replacing 100%; that’s not an optimal strategy.” You can also replace that water after your run — especially if it’s a shorter (subhour) workout.
7. COOL DOWN
Normally, it’s questionable whether taking an ice bath to cut down on inflammation is beneficial for racers. But when it’s hot out, cooling down quick is a higher priority. Especially if you run later in the day, says Boorsma, the goal is to bring your body temperature back to normal as quickly as possible so you can get to sleep faster. (To track your sleep to make sure you’re recovering as quickly as possible, try using a sleep tracker like the UA Band.)
8. EMBRACE IT
“Pro athletes go to training camps in the heat on purpose,” says Boorsma. There are specific adaptations you make running in the heat, and making your run a bit harder without needing to pick up the pace or add hills is a pretty great side benefit. “You’re getting an added benefit of training in the heat,” he says.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN