Picture this scenario, you wake up early one summer morning in order to beat the heat of the day and get your jog on. You get all ready and as soon as you walk out the door it feels like you just hopped into a hot and muggy shower. As you try to run, your body feels sluggish and you can never quite cool off. If you have felt this before, then you know that jogging in humid environments is no small joke. Jogging is a great way to stay in shape and provide numerous health benefits, but jogging on a hot and humid place can be difficult and potentially dangerous if you don’t follow certain precautions.
What’s So Bad About Humidity?
Humans are natural runners. Our bodies are designed in such a way that we are able to have great endurance. Our strong leg muscles and relatively large Achilles tendon are signs of this. Another natural advantage we have is our ability to regulate our body temperatures through sweat. When our body temperatures rise, sweat is produced in the skin, which is then evaporated and takes heat with it. This is great for dryer climates where the water will actually evaporate, but humidity prevents the sweat from evaporating, meaning the heat stays in your body and you aren’t cooled off. This can cause you to overheat and can give you heat exhaustion or heat cramps.
Another downside to humidity is the insects. What started as a peaceful jog can turn into a struggle of keeping mosquitoes away. All of these can have an impact on your run and your body, so the following tips are designed to help you get the most out of running in the humidity.
Check the humidity level before leaving on your jog. Many runners will try to find the coolest part of the day to run, but disregard the humidity levels. This is a mistake because the level of humidity can greatly affect how hot it feels outside. For example, an 85-degree day can feel more like something closer to 95-100-degrees with just a 70% humidity rating.
Wear bug-spray that is water/sweat proof. Another downside to humidity is the bugs that the climate brings. Unless you want to spend your entire jog swatting bugs, then a good bug-spray is recommended. Always look for some that is sweat proof so that it won’t just rub off once you start breaking a sweat. Also, be careful with it around your face, even though some sprays are sweat-proof, they may still run into your eyes once you start sweating which can cause irritation.
Train, train, train. It has been shown that it can take around two weeks of consistent humid weather training in order for your body to adapt. This is especially true if your body is used to drier climates. After about two weeks you body will be able to control its temperature better and dissipate the heat better. This tip is especially important for new runners, or runners coming from a different climate. Your body has the very unique ability to adjust to its surroundings, but you need to give it time.
Water! Probably the most important tip is to stay hydrated. This goes for any climate, but humid ones especially. Also, don’t be afraid to use sports drinks or running gels to help gain back some vital electrolytes that your body loses when you sweat.
Don’t overdo it. In order to stay safe and not go into heat exhaustion, you need to realize when to slow down and cool down. Your body temperature can spike very quickly, so it is important to listen to your body and stop when it tells you to. You need to realize that it is normal to tire more quickly and run slower on a humid day. Fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headaches are all warning signs that your body is overheating.
If you are able to follow these survival tips, then jogging in humid environments will be much safer and enjoyable. You don’t have to rely on the weather for a good time, you just need to be smart and be prepared. As you continue to train and teach your body, then soon you’ll not even notice the difference. It may be hard at first, but as you continue you’ll see the great benefits that jogging can give you!