How You Can Run in the Humidity this Summer
Most places in the United States rank with humidity throughout the year. With the exception of Alaska that has the highest humidity amount but the lowest average dew point (we’re going to focus more on dew point since that is actually what affects us the most. If you want more information on humidity measures check out this article) running in the humidity is going to be something most of us will battle at some point in the year.
But how do you run in the humidity? Is it even safe?
Coming from Kansas where we rank in the top 20 for average dew point I get my fair share of running in the humidity. Now that isn’t to say that Kansas has humidity like numbers 1, 2, or 3 on that list (Hawaii, Florida, and Louisiana) but we still have most of the summer to deal with it.
Other than Alaska, your best bet for low humidity and dew point is going to be either Nevada, Wyoming or Utah. Which I can’t say would be horrible places to live. If you like the wide-open range then definitely head to Wyoming I hear.
Weather Lesson – Humidity vs Dew Point
What’s the difference? What should you look at?
Both relative humidity and dew point are important to look at. Because the combination of the two is going to determine how you feel while on your run.
Typically speaking a dew point above 65 F will make it feel sticky outside and above 70 F really really sticky and uncomfortable for a run.
If you want a great and easy-to-understand explanation check out this article about dew point vs humidity!
Why Humidity Matters when Running
When we run or exercise or really do anything where our body temperature rises we produce sweat. As we perspire, our bodies cool themselves through evaporation. However, when the humidity is high there is less evaporation occurring. This simply means that we aren’t able to cool ourselves as effectively because the sweat on our bodies isn’t drying up.
Since the sweat on our bodies is taking longer to evaporate, we will naturally produce even more sweat to try to cool down during our run. Increasing the production of sweat uses even more energy to keep us cool. In turn, we have a reduced amount of energy to use for running, making it feel so hard.
Running Humidity Chart – Pace Adjustments for Humidity
How to Run in High Humidity
The first thing to do is to adjust your paces as indicated above. Better yet. I like to switch it up to effort or heart-rate based training in the summer and high humidity months instead of pace.
Why? It is a better way to adjust due to the weather as well as keeps you in check from going too hard when the weather is too hot. It can also be discouraging to not hit your “normal” paces due to the weather!
Second. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate.
This doesn’t mean just on your run but before and after as well. No matter the season runners should be hydrating throughout the day. However, when the temperatures rise and the humidity too we should be even more diligent on our hydration!
I love my anojie hydration vest for my long runs that I reviewed a while back!
Third, run early.
I already like to run early in the morning due to scheduling and being a morning person. In the summer heat, this comes in really handy for me because that is honestly the best time to run. It is still coolish out from the overnight lows.
Don’t get me wrong. This morning it was 72 degrees out with a dew point of 71. Which pretty much sucked. BUT, it was better than being 80 something with 71 dew point later in the morning!
Fourth – plan a shady route
If you must run when the sun is out. Plan your run to be nice and shady as well as having spots to hide or stop for water.
Summer is also a good time to hit those shady trail runs. For one, they are more shaded a lot of times than city streets. Second, the dirt doesn’t absorb and radiate as much heat as asphalt and concrete do!
Another thing to think about when you plan your route no matter the time of day is the wind. If there is even a light breeze out plan to run the last part of your run (when you are the hottest) into the breeze. Unlike fall and winter when we are when we want the wind at our back, summer is the time to run into the wind.
Why run into the wind? It will help evaporate your sweat and keep you cooler during the hottest part of your run!
Is it Bad to Run in the Humidity?
There are some dangers and things to be on the lookout for when running in high humidity. While we want to get out there and keep running we still need to be careful!
While there are these dangers below, be aware that they are fairly rare. Especially if you take precautions.
Heat cramps: Muscle spasms and cramps caused by a loss of electrolytes. This is probably the most common thing to happen and is easily remedied by hydrating and adding in some electrolytes with either Liquid IV or Body Armor.
Dehydration: Start your run hydrated and know that some dehydration is normal. Most runners can safely be dehydrated up to 4% but anything more can cause problems. Just be sure to hydrate before, during, and after your run to prevent dehydration!ur run and rehydrate well afterward.
Heat exhaustion: If this happens you need to stop your workout immediately. The symptoms include dehydration, nausea, headache, and a body temperature up to 104º. This is the precursor to the next very serious issue that can be deadly! You need to get to cooler temperatures and hydrate before progression occurs!
Heatstroke: Life-threatening and very very serious the symptoms include a body temperature above 105º, disorientation with clumsiness, confusion, lack of sweating, and poor balance. You need to get to the ER right now!
Why Can’t I Breathe When Running in the Humidity
This comes back to the amount of effort and the increased energy required to run in hot and humid conditions. This increased energy expenditure increases your heart rate. The higher your heart rate typically the harder it is to breathe.
As temperature rises and humidity, the amount of water molecules in the air also increases. Therefore, when you breathe in you are getting less oxygen than you would in cooler and dryer temperatures when the oxygen saturation is higher.
Basically, there is less oxygen in the humid air.
This is obviously a simplified explanation to the breathing issue but just know that humidity makes it harder to breathe. Even more so if you have asthma!! Hello me!!! Use your inhaler lol!
Benefits of Running in the Humidity
None. Zip zero zilch. I hate it and don’t want to talk about them.
I truly do hate running in the humidity but there are some actual benefits to heat training for your running so I guess we will talk about them.
However, summer running really does make you a better runner for fall races. Your body will adapt to the heat and you will be able to run at the same pace in cooler temps much easier. Your body learns to sweat at lower temperatures to help jump-start the cooling process.
Also, as your body adapts to heat and humidity you become more efficient at dissipating heat and regulating your body temperature. Another adaptation your body makes is that your sweat gets less salty and you are able to maintain a proper electrolyte balance.
Who is running in high humidity!!??
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