It is approximately one zillion degrees outside, give or take. I don’t know about you, but that makes workouts a challenge for me. Biking isn’t quite as bad because you create your own wind. But running… ugh. So very warm.
Here’s what I’ve found works for me to stay healthy and keep moving in the heat.
Hydration is obviously key. But I don’t just mean staying hydrated while you workout. No, you need to make sure you’re properly hydrated at all times. There is a lot of different “wisdom” out there about how much water you need – 64 ounces, 100 ounces, juice counts, juice doesn’t count, etc. I tend to aim for 100 ounces in the summer, plus whatever I consume while working out. But this isn’t a challenge for me. I’m not forcing down water or anything. So if you don’t drink very much water right now, don’t worry about hitting a certain goal. Just try to add a glass of water here and there.
For me, figuring out electrolytes (specifically sodium, but really electrolytes in general) was a huge thing. I used to get crushing headaches after a long run until I discovered that salt after a workout helped. If it helps after a workout, it must help during too, right? I’ve used salt pills and recently switched over to Base Salts, which I really like. Using electrolyte beverages just wasn’t cutting it for me. So as you’re training in the heat, experiment. Maybe the electrolyte drinks will work for you. Maybe you need something more. Since I don’t eat much processed food and don’t habitually salt my food, when I have a hot workout coming up, I make a point to add some salt to my meals, just a sprinkle here or there. It’s made a huge difference in how I feel after a workout.
Wear sunscreen. Just do it. I don’t care what kind you use, just make sure you apply it properly. And if you’ve had a few burns over the years, it never hurts to see a dermatologist for a skin check. I get one every year, just to be safe. It’s quick and easy and the reassurance is awesome.
Time of Day
If you haven’t noticed, it’s much warmer out in the middle part of the day. Getting in your workout early can really help you beat the heat. But you have to be smart and safe. I’m not going running at 3am in the dark outside. It’s just not happening. But there are running groups that meet early to get in their training. Safety in numbers and all. Just make sure you’re wearing a lot of reflective gear. Not just light colors – they don’t illuminate like you think they will. Reflective gear, blinky lights, the works. The more ridiculous you think you look, the better off you are.
Listen to Your Body
This is the most important part of working out in the heat. Listen to your body. You will probably have to slow down a bit. That’s okay. If you find yourself struggling to recover after a workout or find that you’re way more exhausted than you think you should be, get some rest. Heat is hard on your body even when you’re not exerting yourself, so be smart. It’s better to go into a race slightly undertrained and healthy than sick or injured.