by Rebecca Isenhart
Last summer, I set a goal to get in shape, but the mere thought of establishing a running routine made me break a sweat. I could hardly run a mile without feeling sick, and the sneakers I had bought a couple of years before, which had been more fashion- than fitness-motivated, made my feet cramp. One year later, I run a minimum of 5k several times a week. Rather than dreading my workout, I look forward to it as a time to spend solitary time thinking and improving my fitness. Seriously – it’s fun, and I never thought I’d say that! These suggestions may seem simple, but they make all the difference in my opinion, and I hope they help you meet your own fitness goals.
Planning your workout:
Run when the sun is low.
It’s healthier to run when it’s cooler – early in the morning or in the evening, after the sun goes down. Running when it’s too hot an unnecessary strain on your body that will make your run less successful and can even become dangerous. Plan to work out when the sun is at a lower angle in the sky, as close to sunrise or sunset as you can manage. This will guarantee you a more reasonable temperature, more shade to protect your skin, and a more successful workout overall. If you’re running in the dark, be sure to wear white or reflective gear and carry a flashlight.
When purchasing workout gear, consider function over fashion
Booty shorts and sleek black sneakers are great in the store, but far less awesome on your running route. For example, running in compression shorts that extend about halfway down your thighs will help your legs glide smoothly even if you start to sweat. White sneakers reflect light and heat, keeping your feet from getting uncomfortably hot. Minor considerations like these will minimize distractions during your workout and help you find success.
If you’re going to start an exercise routine, be conscious of keeping your body hydrated all the time. Keep a reusable cup or water bottle with you at all times – it’s not enough to just drink before and after. If you feel unusually thirsty, get light-headed, or have other signs of dehydration, try including more sodium in your diet by salting your food or drinking sports drinks.
During your workout:
Wear sunscreen and sunglasses
Running is generally great for your body, but summer running poses special health hazards, especially sun damage. If you’re someone who likes to run without much planning or prep time, use a daily moisturizer with SPF. Vaseline makes a great aloe-scented one that’s inexpensive and does the trick!
If you’re running solo, bring your phone along with you
What would you do if you were miles from your destination and you became dehydrated, overheated, or injured? During one run earlier this summer, I got some kind of bite or sting that started to cause an allergic reaction. Having a lifeline kept the situation from becoming more serious. If you don’t have pockets and your phone is a music player, load your running playlist onto it so you only have one item to carry!
Shoot for the sprinklers!
Running in a neighborhood? On a hot day, people are sure to have their sprinklers running. Have some fun and cool off at the same time – sprint up into people’s lawns and leap through the refreshing mist. You might have to overcome some self-consciousness, but it’ll be worth it for the re-energizing spritz.
Allow yourself to walk
Set a goal – whether it’s time or distance – and stick with it. If you have to walk, don’t feel badly about it. You’re still exercising. But don’t give up and walk home, either. Each time you push yourself during a run, you’ll be rewarded when the next time is easier.
After your workout:
Cool down properly, then stretch
Resist the temptation to flop down in the air conditioning after a good workout. Running is a high-impact exercise, and your muscles need to be taken care of so you can keep working out without damaging your body. Plus, you won’t be sore (or as sore) the following day.
In the summer, you’re bound to sweat a little extra, and with sweat comes toxins that can stop up your pores. Don’t let your workout routine result in breakouts – make sure you shower, or even swim in a pool, as soon as you finish stretching.
Don’t rush the results
The pressure to look perfect in summer clothes can be overwhelming at times. Plateaus happen to everyone, but if you focus on achieving new personal bests and strive for overall health rather than expecting an instantly flawless physique, you’re less likely to become frustrated and give up. Be positive, and remember that no matter how slowly you run, you’re still kicking the butts of everyone laying around in the air conditioning. You can do this! Don’t give up!