10 tips for staying cool while running in the summer
Texas summers can be brutal for runners. Here are 10 tips to keep yourself from getting overheated while running.
1. Run early in the morning
In Texas, it starts getting hot before the sun even comes up, so your best bet for beating the heat is starting early, before the temperatures creep into the 90s. If you’re not a morning person, you can run in the evening, too, but is there anything better than an Austin sunrise?
2. Run near the water and under tree cover
There’s a reason everybody loves the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake. OK, there are a lot of reasons — but large stretches of the trail are shaded by trees, and the breeze off the water makes it feel about 10 degrees cooler than it actually is on hot summer days, providing some sweet relief for runners. Not to mention the view isn’t bad, either.
3. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing (and don’t be self-conscious)
As any Texan will agree, sometimes summertime in Texas means wearing the literal least amount of clothing possible. While exercising outdoors, that may mean a sports bra and shorts for women, or just shorts for men. There’s no need to feel self-conscious when all we’re trying to do is stay fit and not pass out from heat exhaustion. But make sure what you’re wearing is light-colored and loose-fitting, and moisture-wicking apparel is even better.
4. Hats and sunglasses are your friend
Is there anything worse than a scalp sunburn? Probably not. Make sure your hat is loose-fitting and light-colored as well for maximum comfort. I also like to tie a bandana around my wrist to wipe sweat from my brow or upper lip when I’m running (and then after I’m done running, I’ll soak it in water and tie it around my neck to cool down).
Drink water all day long before and after your run, and make sure to either bring water with you (you can buy a number of handy-dandy water pouches, or just carry it with you) or plan your route so that you can stop for water along the way.
6. Give your body time to get used to it
Your body isn’t going to get used to running in hot temperatures overnight, so don’t feel pressured to run as fast or as hard as you do when it’s, say, 70 degrees out. When you first start running in the heat, maybe shorten your distance and don’t do any speed training for the first week or two, so your body can acclimate. Also consider starting your runs slower. For example, if you run an 8-minute mile, start off at a 10-minute pace to avoid overdoing it.
7. Sunscreen and bug spray
Always, always, always slather on the sunscreen before heading out for a summer run. Bug spray isn’t a bad idea, either, especially if you run at dusk. Check out our guide to sunscreen and sun protection for you and your family, and then see which of these 16 mosquito repellents we tried were the most effective.
8. Use the buddy system
Grab a friend to run with you or join a running club. It’ll help you stay safe while running, and it’ll give you a way to distract yourself from how doggone hot it is.
9. Jump in the water afterward
On particularly hot days, I’ll go park near Zilker so that I can end my runs at Barton Springs Pool. There’s nothing more refreshing than jumping in that icy cold spring water at the end of a very hot run. Check out our guide to swimming holes in Central Texas (and plan your running routes around them).
10. Listen to your body (and the heat index)
While these tips will help you stay cool for running on hot days, some days it is simply too hot to run outdoors, and that’s OK. Skip running for the day and try something else, like yoga or Pilates. Or find a neighborhood gym and opt for the treadmill.
It’s also OK to stop once you’ve started, too. If you’re out running in the heat and you find yourself getting nauseous or lightheaded, don’t be afraid to find a shady spot to sit down and cool off, then walk back home. There’s no shame in calling a friend or a rideshare to pick you up and take you back to your car or house, either.
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