Running Through A Hot Summer

One thing Chicagoans know is we get brutal winters and brutal summers. In the winter temperatures dip below freezing and runners need to be prepared for the cold conditions; in the summer though we get 90 degree heat with a lot of humidity. The heat in Chicago is not talked about as frequently as the cold and runners need to be prepared for the scorching temperatures.

Why is running in the heat so difficult?

Temperature, sun exposure and humidity

The heat will make your core temperature rise which makes running feel harder.

Humidity is a challenge for runners in the summer. Humidity prevents sweat from evaporating from our skin. Sweating is what keeps us cool. Running in humid conditions increases fluid loss and dehydration. This leads to thicker blood that needs more energy to pump it through our bodies.

Runners may need to slow down to maintain their same effort.

Dangers of running in the summer

Heat Cramps. Muscle cramps caused by a lot of fluid and electrolyte loss. They are more common after runner rather than during. These cramps are not serious but it is important to drink enough fluids that have electrolytes.

Dehydration. It is safe to lose up to 4% of bodyweight during exercise but more than that and you will risk dizziness, fatigue and disorientation. Most of the time dehydration is not very serious although it is common so make sure to drink enough fluids before, during and after running.

Heat exhaustion. This is a combination of dehydration, headache, nausea, and a high core body temperature. Stop running and get yourself to cooler temperatures if you start to experience any of these symptoms. Rehydrate

Heat stroke. This is the most serious of the heat illnesses. Heat stroke is when your core body temperatures is at least 105 degrees. The body shuts down with symptoms of disorientating, clumsiness, confusion, poor balance, and lack of sweating. If these symptoms occur immediately seek medical attention.

How to train in the summer

Run by effort not by pace. Your body will understand how hard you are able to push yourself

Run early. Run when the temperatures are the lowest and the sun is at its weakest

Run in the shade. Find trails or paths that offer a lot of shade

Run in your means. Performance will not be as impressive in these conditions so lower your expectations.

Dress appropriately. Wear sunscreen, moisture wicking and loose fitting clothing, a hat

Stay hydrated. Drink before, during and after your run. Chicago has an app that shows you where the closest drinking fountains are. The Lake Front offers hydration stations throughout the summer.

Advantages of running in the summer

There are many benefits of summer running that make you a more efficient and faster runner. The bosy gets better at dissipating heat and conserving electrolytes. It also produces more red blood cells and become more efficient at controlling core temperature. Adapting to these conditions makes you perform better in hot conditions. These benefits will make you perform better in all seasons.