Ah, summer. The moment you step outside, it feels like you’ve walked into an oven — it’s a lot easier to stay indoors or choose the comfort of an air-conditioned gym.
But what happens if you have to train outdoors? In those situations, you need special strategies to withstand brutally hot days while still maintaining your highest level of performance. We’ve compiled the best tips to keep you as cool and comfortable as possible during workouts when the thermometer looks like it might just explode.
1. DRINK MORE FLUIDS BEFORE AND DURING YOUR TRAINING
When it’s hot, you’ll sweat more than usual so it’s important to replace your fluid levels and electrolytes.
First, win the battle by hydrating before you step outside. Then, bring plenty of fluids with you so you can stay hydrated as you exercise.
If you’re going to go outside for more than 30 minutes, drink a hydration mix or electrolyte drink to help replenish what you lose. Sweat contains about 3 grams of salt per liter so, if you’re only drinking water, you’ll constantly lose sodium, which can hurt your physical performance. (The rule of thumb is to drink enough liquid so your urine is clear or slightly yellow.)
Also, choose a water bottle that keeps your liquids cool for added relief from the heat like Under Armour’s insulated bottles.
2. AVOID THE WORST TIMES OF DAY
If you’re planning to train on a hot day, do it during the most bearable times of the days — Think: early morning, late afternoon or night. Generally speaking, the hottest time of day occurs between 11 a.m.–3:30 p.m. The temperature is usually hottest in the early afternoon, but noon means a high sun and sparse shade.
3. CHOOSE A SHADY ROUTE
Direct sunlight can make you feel really hot; soon, the sunlight feels like it’s beating down on you.
Make shade your best friend. Whether you’re running for miles or doing sports-specific drills, choose a path or area that’s well shaded for your exercise. For example, jog along a tree-lined street or do agility drills in a park full of trees.
If there aren’t many trees around you, use buildings to your advantage. For example, on an afternoon jog, run on the western side of a north-south street so the buildings block the worst of the sunlight.
4. MIND THE HUMIDITY
Humidity can make a 90-degree day feel like 105 because your body cools itself by sweating: As the sweat evaporates from your skin, it helps you feel cooler. When it’s humid, however, that process gets reduced because the air is already so moist.
Don’t just look at the thermometer; look at the “heat index,” which also factors how hot the weather feels. That way, you’ll know when you can train and when you should wait for cooler temperatures.
5. WEAR LIGHTWEIGHT, LIGHT-COLORED CLOTHING
The clothes you wear make a massive difference in how hot or cool you feel while exercising outside. For example, there’s a huge difference between a regular cotton T-shirt and a featherweight compression top that wicks away your sweat to keep you feeling cool and dry.
Wear heat-specific clothing and choose bright colors to reflect sunlight and heat. Under Armour Coolswitch is a great choice for brutal summer days — it’s engineered fabric breathes extremely well, wicks sweat and even offers UV protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
6. WEAR SUNSCREEN
Hot, sunny days mean strong ultraviolet rays and quick sunburns. If you’re exercising outdoors for more than a few minutes, make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. It might actually help you feel cooler.
7. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
For extreme temperatures, I wear a heart-rate monitor so I know how my body is handling the added stress. For example, when it’s hot, the same amount of work that would’ve made your heart rate 140bpm on a mild day could push it upwards of 160bpm. In that case, I would slow down my training to keep my heart rate at a comparable level to match what it is at moderate temperatures. That way, I’m not adding more stress and difficulty to my body than I should.