Summer running: Hydrate, dial it back, stay cool

Jon Broussard stops at a water fountain at Auditorium Shores after a 13-mile run on the Butler hike and bike trail in this 2013 file photo. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Jon Broussard stops at a water fountain at Auditorium Shores after a 13-mile run on the Butler hike and bike trail in this 2013 file photo. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

I ran the Luke’s Locker Driveway Summer Series Wednesday evening, and it reminded me how much harder it is to run when it’s warm outside.

Notice I didn’t say hot. We’ve had a deliciously “cool” summer so far, and I’m not complaining. And I loved the race, which is staged on a closed, partly shaded motor track in East Austin.

But it is different when you head out for a run in the heat and humidity, and you need to take care of yourself. Here are a few tips:

1. Hydrate. Drink up a few hours before you head out, and sip on something every 15 minutes or so if you’re out more than 30 minutes. If you’re going for a longer run, make sure you get some electrolytes too. It’s actually possible to get too much water, so make sure you’re belly isn’t gurgling.

2. Shade. Don’t run down a sun-baked stretch of hot black pavement. Look for trails or streets that are shaded. The Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake is a good option; if you like trail running try the Barton Creek Greenbelt. You can cool off in the creek if you overheat.

3. Slow down. Now is not the time to set a personal record. It takes about two weeks to get used to running in the heat, and even so, you shouldn’t expect to run as fast as you can when it’s, say, 60 degrees outside. St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis suggests slowing your pace 20 to 30 seconds per mile for every 5 degrees above 60.

4. Go early, go late. Just try not to go mid-day, between noon and 6 p.m., when the sun’s at its highest point and you might catch a sunburn.

5. Clothes. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes that breath well. Grab your sunglasses, slather on the sunscreen and wear a cap.

Author: Pam LeBlanc

Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and travel for the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked for the Statesman since 1998 and written her weekly fitness column, Fit City, since 2004.

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