The Benefits of Running in the Heat (& How to Do it Safely)
We're in for some warmer temperatures this year, and runners everywhere want to know what to expect from the heat.
Heat doesn't have to get in the way of your running schedule. Running in the heat can have benefits that running in cold to mild climates don't. Be aware that heat can also have consequences, and it's important to know how to do it right.
Here's what every runner should know about the benefits of running in the heat, and how to do it safely.
About the Heat
Heat and the Run
Runners, and people, have mixed feelings about the heat.
Love it or hate it, predictions for the year says that we're about to reach higher temperatures. Many runners choose to postpone running on warm days, while others embrace going out in the heat.
Heat can be beneficial, and heat can be dangerous.
If you do it safely, heat can be one of the best elements part of your run. If you do it wrong, it could be dangerous – or fatal.
Why Heat is Dangerous
Heat, higher temperatures than you are used to, can be dangerous. But to understand why, consider what heat can do to the body.
The heat dehydrates, and makes athletes lose more electrolytes and fluid during activity. Heat can place more strain on the muscles, and more strain on the heart. Sunlight also brings ultraviolet rays, which strain the eyes and can attack the skin.
With cardiac conditions, heat can act as an aggravating factor and increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Heat and strain are not good combinations, and the two can be fatal.
...so why would anyone choose to run in the heat?
Why Heat Can Benefit Runners
If you want to know why heat is beneficial to a runner, ask an athlete if they have ever had to exercise in the cold. Cold temperatures place just as much strain on the joints, and extreme cold temperatures carry similar dangers to extreme heat.
Heat naturally warms up the muscles and joints, and increases blood flow to the extremities.
If you pace rather than strain yourself, running in the heat has benefits of its own.
Safety Tips for Heat Runs
Hydration is perhaps the single most important thing if you want to stay safe in the heat. Hotter temperatures lead to quicker loss of fluid and electrolytes; this loss is any runner's greatest enemy. Remember to increase your fluid intake when the heat hits.
Protect the Skin
Heat brings more dangers in the form of ultraviolet rays, which can increase your risk of sunburn, heatstroke and certain cancers. Always protect the skin if you're going out for a run in full sunlight. Choose a high SPF measure for optimal protection.
Monitor the Heart
Heat can place more strain on the heart, which exercise then increases further. Monitor your heart rate and make sure that it stays within the safest range for your normal exercise routine. Rest or stop if it goes up too high: it's not worth the health risk to ever push yourself too far.
Conclusion: Safety First
Running in the heat can be dangerous, but it doesn't have to be.
Hydrate, protect the skin, monitor the heart – and make sure that you don't overheat, or you could increase your chances of serious or fatal health issues.
- Grivet Outdoors