Summer months… BBQs, sunset parties, after work drinks, holidays, heat. There are many obstacles to keeping on training during the summer months.
Being on holidays, most of the times on a warm beach destination, we may not feel motivated to run due to the heat.
Portugal is also a very warm country during the summer months, from June to September. Lisbon is located along Portugal’s Atlantic coast where the Tagus River flows into the sea. It’s location in the Southwest of Europe gives it a warm Mediterranean climate with many bright and sunny days. The city’s climate is also influenced by the warm Gulf Stream current that crosses the Atlantic from North America. Lisbon’s bright, sunny and warm summers are very dry with monthly precipitation of less than 1/2-inch. The daily high temperatures are usually in the low to middle 27ºC. The hottest days of summer can be over 32ºC.
Fortunately, and one of the factors that makes Lisbon an ideal running destination, summer nights are pleasant with average lows in the 16ºC and sea breezes off the Atlantic Ocean bring some relief on hot days. So, usually, during the summer months, we recommend you to only run before 9:00 or after 19:30 to enjoy the cooler mornings and evenings.
Check out our eight tips to erase the heat from the summer training-obstacle list:
- Head Out Early or Late
That’s what we do here in Portugal as even in the worst heat wave, it cools off significantly by dawn. Get your run done then, before 9:00, and you’ll feel good about it all day. Can’t fit it in or prefer enjoying your holiday mornings in bed? Wait until evening, when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong, after 19:30. Be careful not to do it too late that it keeps you from getting to sleep. Also, you can check the breeze: if possible, start your run going with the wind and then run back with a headwind. Running into the wind has a cooling effect, and you’ll need that in the second half of a run. Smart, isn’t it?
- Drink Water First
No surprise: Hydration is key. If you’re getting ready to run for an hour or less, drink a glass of water before your run. If you’re planning a longer run (think half-marathon or more) and heading out for a run that’ll last longer than an hour, try to drink at least half a liter of water first, starting 30 minutes before you start.
- Don’t Drink in Excess
Also during your run it’s important to hydrate, but don’t overdo it as it may harm you. One of the risks of overhydration is that it can cause hyponatremia, a lack of salt in the body. To tell if you’re hydrating properly, weigh yourself before and after your run. The idea is to lose weight during your run, but people who drink too much water will gain weight. Ideally, you’ll lose two to five percent of your weight (it’s water weight that’ll come back as you refuel).
- Minimize Your Sun Exposure
To delay the heating-up process, go for wicking materials in light colors that don’t absorb the sun. Add a hat or a visor for a one-two punch of blocking the bright sun and reducing your skin’s contact with its rays. Wear as little as possible, light in color, lightweight, and has vents or mesh. Microfiber polyesters and cotton blends are good fabric choices. Sunscreen is really important. Put it on half an hour before you start your training and use a proper sunblock factor according to your skin.
- Leave the Sweat on Your Face
Sweat is your body’s way of keeping you cool. If you wipe it away, you’ll be wiping the cooling benefits away from your forehead and onto the sidewalk below. The wind on your sweated body also gives you a cooler feeling, so, if appropriate, you may take your t-shirt off. You can also keep your body temperature in check by taking a cold shower before you head out, giving you more time before your body starts feeling the heat.
- Make Adjustments
If it’s hot, be patient and adapt your training and expectations due to the tough weather conditions. Don’t do long or higher-intensity workouts during the heat of the day. If you must run at midday, pick routes with shade. Starting your workout slower than you usually do is also an excellent tip. If you’re feeling good halfway through, it’s okay to speed up a little bit. Are you moving to a different climate or has the summer arrived abruptly? Be patient: Give yourself one to two weeks to acclimatize to hot weather, gradually increasing the length and intensity of your training. In that adaptation time, your body will learn to decrease your heart rate, decrease your core body temperature, and increase your sweat rate.
- Seek Grass and Shade
Fortunately Lisbon is a rather green city with nice green parks and a huge forest park only a few kilometres from away from the city centre. It’s always hotter in cities than in surrounding areas because asphalt and concrete retain heat. If you’re running in an urban or even a suburban area, look for shade—any park will do or running on the side of the road where the shade is. Lisbon’s Monsanto Park gives runners a chance to enjoy the weather in a natural setting and its tree-covered trails are ideal to escape from the hot city streets.
- Just Train in the Heat
Are you preparing a race where you may face hot weather conditions? Prepare your body (and mind) by doing a couple of long training runs in the dead of summer to learn how to deal, so there’s less of a freak-out factor on race day. But, please be careful and think about the above tips.
So, let’s go for a run in Portugal? :)