Summer Running: The Pros & Cons (& how to deal with them)

summer running

With Memorial Day just around the corner, and temperatures rising all over the country, it is clear that Summer is on its way.  And for some runners, the extra sunshine is a welcome guest.  For other runners, Summer running is a beast!  Regardless of how you feel about the warmer months of the year, it’s undeniable that Summer running has it’s fair share of pros and cons.  With a little adaptation, and a few tips, running in the warmer months can be enjoyable and incredibly beneficial.

Here’s a few reasons why the Summer months shouldn’t be spent (exclusively) hanging out on the treadmill.  Along with some helpful recommendations for surviving the unique challenges that come with longer days and soaring temps.

The Summer Running Pros:

  • Heat Training Benefits – Heat training is HARD, but we all know hard work has some serious benefits.  Learning how to survive a run in high temps and humidity takes a lot practice, and some planning.  The rewards through, stronger running, both mentally and physically.  In fact for all the details of how heat training can benefit your training, head over to The Mother Runners!
  • Running in the Rain – April showers bring May flowers, right?  Well, summer showers are not all that uncommon, and unlike fall and winter seasons running in the rain isn’t painful during the summer.  In fact, heading out during a little sprinkle can be really refreshing, and make you feel like a kid again.  Just make sure to avoid any thunderstorms, and try not to slip!
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  • Clear Trails – Down here in the south, snow and ice isn’t something we have to worry about all that often (unless you lived in Texas during the 2021 snowpocalypse).  For those of you up north, though, summer running means having a lot more access to clear trails….and roads.  Put those snow spikes away, and head to the mountains.
  • Earlier Sunrises – Not my favorite part of summer during the weekend, but I really appreciate being able to put the headlamp away a whole lot sooner once spring rolls around.  Running in the dark isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I think most of us generally prefer being able to see in front of our faces, and summer running blesses us with some of the most spectacular sunrises.
  • After Run Summer Beer – A post-run beer isn’t something that’s off limits during the fall and winter.  And in fact, my all time favorite beer is Shiner Cheer, which is technically only available during the holidays.  However, the post-run beer just hits different during the summer.  It might be all of the refreshing seasonal beers that have a hint of fruit, or the fact that you’re sweating like  you ran through a sauna.  Either way, there are few things in life that hit the spot just right like the summer afternoon, post-run beer.  Extra points if it’s drank on a pool floatie.

The Summer Running Cons:

  • Heat Stroke is a Real Thing – Unfortunately, as beneficial as heat training can be, we all know the saying about too much of a good thing.  Heat stroke is a real, and dangerous, thing.  It’s important to know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  And if you need a few tips for dealing with the heat and humidity, you know this native Texan has you covered.
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  • Sunburns & Tan Lines – In all honesty, I wear my shorts and sock tan lines like a badge of honor all summer long.  But I know not everyone shares my two-tone enthusiasm.  And while tan lines aren’t exactly dangerous, sun burns and skin cancer sure are.  Make sure you lather up on the SPF before you head out, and be sure to pick a sweat proof variety.  Also, if you plan to be out for more than 90 minutes, consider tossing one of these single serve sunscreens in your pack to re-apply mid-run.
  • GI Issues – One of the unique challenges of summer running is the fact that heat can cause or exacerbate stomach issues.  Any veteran runner can tell you just how quickly a good run can go bad when the stomach goes south.  If your stomach is struggling to adjust to higher temps, make sure to take in some extra electrolytes (like Liquid IV or Nuun).  One of my favorite summer running tips is to incorporate liquid fueling, like Tailwind, to help make sure you stomach is staying hydrated and happy.  Also, be sure to check out my Summer Fueling post for more tips!
  • Washing Clothes – Running in the heat means extra sweaty clothes.  Not the worst thing in the world, but if you don’t know how to properly care for your athletic clothes, you could be in for a smelly mess.  Pro-tip, make sure you lay your clothes out to dry before tossing them in the hamper, and invest in a specialized laundry detergent to help get that extra funk out.
  • The Bugs – Depending on where you live, bugs might be a minor nuisance, or a real issue during the summer months.  Whether it’s inhaling a full serving of protein in knats, running through fresh spider webs, or (my least personal favorite) being eaten alive by mosquitos, bugs are generally not a runners best friend.  While you can’t always control what’s going on in mother nature, you can make sure to research any dangerous species in your area, and look into home remedies for bites and stings.  Also, be sure to give those running shoes a good shake before your sliding your feet inside!
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All in all, fast fall races are won in summer.  Not to mention the fact that summer running can make you faster, stronger, and grittier than the average spring breaker.  While it’s not always easy to get out the door during the hottest time of the year, summer running has a lot to offer.  And it shouldn’t be avoided.  So grab your favorite pair of short shorts, and embrace the challenge!

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