Tips for the Trail – Summer Running – Xterra – 6-17-2011

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 6/17/2011

Summer is my favorite time of the year for running. I love the sun! The warm, happy and overall alive feelings I enjoy while on the trails during the summer months are the best.  But when it comes to running in the summer, especially when it is hot, it’s important to be prepared. Scheduling a cool time of the day to run, staying hydrated, and wearing the proper clothing are all factors that can help create a memorable summer.

Rachel CieslewiczEarly morning is almost always the coolest time of day, so why not take advantage of it with a run.  If you are not an early riser, shifting to that now will allow a cooler workout. In addition, the magic of running to a high point to watch a sunrise and enjoying the still of morning before the world wakes up is my idea of bliss.

I highly suggest morning runs for health as well. The sun is much kinder in the morning. The higher the sun burns bright in the sky, typically the hotter and more intense the rays.  Hydration becomes an issue and ability to put in a good effort is often diminished in the heat of the day.  This is due to the body focusing on trying to cool down rather than going fast.

If you must run when it is hot, proper hydration is essential.  Hydration begins well before you are out there.  In the summer, it is a way of life.  To ensure I have enough fluids, I always drink an extra glass or two of water when I go to bed, as well as when I first wake up.  I carry water with me throughout the day to remind me to drink on a regular basis. If it is really hot and I am very active, I may drink up to a gallon a day.

Sweating is also a factor. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes more quickly. For some, drinking an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade may be the way to go. I personally love young coconut water. It provides all of the major hydration needs without funny things from a lab. Also, look to whole foods for sources. It is amazing the amount of sodium celery carries and the high potassium levels in cabbage.

Beginning a run in a properly hydrated state will help ensure an incredible run. While on your run, bring either hand held water bottles or another hydration system with you as well as salt tablets just in case.  Bring more water than you think you need. It is much better to end a run with a few sips of water left than to run out and risk heat stroke!

For clothing, consider wearing a light colored, flowing long sleeve top and loose shorts to allow airflow.  A light hat with a good rim and sunglasses are also good ideas.  But if you are like me, tank tops are a favorite choice. Just remember that the more skin you expose, the more at risk you are for sunburns – which is even more reason to schedule your runs during the early morning or evening.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She won the women’s division of the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas and Santa Cruz half-marathons this year, and placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship last December at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.