Welp. The summer has descended on my little town and it is hella hot. On Sunday, when highs were a mere 29 degrees, I mistakenly thought maybe, just maybe a 1pm hike wouldn’t almost kill me. I was wrong. Within seconds of hitting the trail, my throat was parched. And I mean parched. Like bone dry as though I had been wandering through the desert for hours. Lesson learned: summer heat is no joke and neither is working out in it. As we step boldly into summer, let me present you with the obvious yet oft-forgotten tips for making the most of summer workouts without dying.
1. Hydrate like a fiend: It’s not just during your workout, it’s before your workout and after your workout. Try not to needlessly dehydrate yourself the day before your workout by, ohhhh I don’t know, sharing two beers, a giant cider and a half bottle of wine with nary a sip of water to break up the constant flow of alcoholic beverages into your system. That would be foolish and I know nothing of such behaviours. And yet, because it’s patio season, it sometimes happens. When it does, add extra water into the mix. And I mean a lot of extra water. It’s not just your workout that’s going to increase the likelihood of dehydration. The warm temperatures will do that all on their own. So just drink a ton of water. It’s obvious.
2. Dawn and dusk are your friends (for outdoor workouts): Listen, from my patio I see people running at 4 pm in the afternoon all. the. time. Perhaps they are superhuman specimens immune to the effects of heat. Or they are fools. Experts will tell you that heat has a definite impact on performance. In fact, Runner’s World tells me that “The “slow down factor” varies from runner to runner, but in general, slowing down 30 to 90 seconds per mile is common in hot/humid weather. ” Naturally, it’s not just running that heat impacts. Any activity will suffer in the heat. So unless you have to, don’t take your workout outdoors in the heat of the day. I know, once again, this is pretty obvious.
3. Switch up your workouts: super hot days are the perfect time to hit a nicely air-conditioned gym for some strength training, or maybe an indoor or outdoor body of water for a swimming day. Sure, maybe you really, really wanted to run outside today, but if the forecast is showing crazy highs I promise you your body will not notice if you bump that run back a day or two until things cool down. If you live in a place that’s always hot, you might just have to make friends with early morning runs, late nights runs or the dreaded treadmill run. Yes, this one’s obvious too.
4. Lay off the black clothing: 90% of my workout clothing is black. I don’t have a dark soul (or perhaps I do…), I just think it hides sweat better and I sweat a lot. Trust me when I say I’ve been on many a run or hike when I’ve regretted the all-black ensemble. Summer heat is the time for loose, flowing, light-coloured clothing.
5. Shady activities are great (literal shady, not sketchy shady): Fun fact: did you know that the temperature in the shade is actually the same as in the sun? But, because you’re avoiding the solar radiation, it feels 10-15 degrees cooler. That’s a big difference. Trees make glorious shade, so seek out the most tree-ful locations you can find and you’ll be made in the shade (oh yeah, I really did just say that). If you can, hike or run in parks with an abundance of trees. A shady park can even serve as a great body-weight or HIIT workout location. Who needs the gym? Also, did you know that studies have shown being around trees (and nature) actually improves our psychological health? It’s true, and it’s a win-win.
Summer heat can be a serious workout energy sucker, but don’t let the heat be an excuse. It can be really easy to put off a workout because it’s too hot, but you can make peace with summer heat by being summer workout smart.