Find Relief from the Summer Sun

by Katherine A. Roccasecca

Find Relief from the Summer SunAs the days lengthen and the weather warms up, we have to do our workouts—including our long runs and bike rides—anyway. But if there is one thing we crave, it's relief from the summer sun.

That's why we put our heads together and brainstormed all the tips and products we could think of that have made training in summer in Iowa easier for us. Here, we're sharing it with you.

We have even created an entire Summer Sun category on our website so you can browse the products we recommend.

Stay Cool in the Summer Sun

Slow your pace. Trying to bang out 8-minute miles on your long run (or even 10-minute miles, if that's your regular pace), is a sure path to overheating. Start way more slowly than you normally would, and then only ramp it up a little at a time. Don't expect to get anywhere close to your top pace.

ArmCoolersWear wicking fabrics. Our bodies sweat in an effort to keep us cool, but if that sweat just sits trapped on your skin, it is only going to make you even more miserable. Most workout clothing today is made from technical wicking fabric. Check the label to be sure, and choose form-fitting styles for the best results.

Wear arm coolers. Arm coolers help to wick moisture away as described above. Plus, they shield your skin from the heat of the sun's rays and provide UV protection so you don't burn.

Shade your face. Even just the little bit of shade from a run visor, run cap, or cycling cap can help you stay cooler, and they help stop the stinging sweat before it gets in your eyes.


Plan your routes carefully. Now might be the time to stick to that nice shady recreational path. Think ahead to where you you'll be able to refill your your water bottles. Even if you do everything right, heat exhaustion is always a real possibility, so consider where there might be good bail-out points. On that note, don't forget to tell someone where you're going and to carry a phone in case you need to make that call.

Educate yourself on the signs of heat exhaustion. Symptoms include, but are not limited to dizziness, fatigue, headache, cramps, chills, and clammy skin. Consult your doctor or another reliable source like WebMD or Mayo Clinic for more information. Remember that, untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.

Change your schedule. You may need to temporarily become a night owl or a morning person. Get your workouts in when is just isn't as hot outside. But, if you are going to be out and about at dusk or in the dark, be sure you have lights so you are visible.

When the heat index climbs into the danger territory, consider going to the gym, running on the treadmill, riding the trainer, or substituting an extra swim. This doesn't make you weak. It makes you smart!

Stay Hydrated

Be sure you are carrying enough water for the conditions and the length/intensity of your workout.

Carrying water on the bike can be as simple as standard bottles and cages. For longer rides, you'll want a system that carries more water. Behind-the-saddle systems let you carry additional bottles that can be moved forward when your frame bottles run dry. Between-the-arms systems and frame systems have straws that encourage frequent drinking—very important! Some systems have optional, specially designed covers that will keep your drink cooler longer. (Read our article Do Insulated Water Bottles Make a Difference?)

Carrying water on the run can be a little harder. You might need to stash water, or run past a convenience store or public water fountain where you can fill up. Handheld hydration products let you carry enough water for a short run. Consider a water belt for longer runs.

Stay hydratedPlain water is fine for most short workouts, but the longer you are out there and the hotter it is, the more electrolytes you lose. Choose a drink mix that helps replenish them. Skratch Labs even makes a Hyper Hydration mix for the toughest conditions.

Protect Your Skin from Sunburn

Protect your skin from the summer sun with sunscreenThe summer sun doesn't just make us hot and miserable, it can damage our skin, sometimes permanently. To avoid serious damage, follow these tips:

  • Work out before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. when the sun's rays aren't as strong.
  • Liberally apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Don't forget your lips and ears. Pick up a small container to carry with you and reapply.
  • Wear a sun visor, or better yet, a hat (which will also protect your scalp) when you run. To protect your scalp from the sun beating through the ventilation holes in your helmet wear a skull cap when you go cycling.
  • Wear long sleeves or arm coolers so you cover as much skin as possible.

No matter how careful you are, you can't always prevent all damage. Check your skin regularly for the following:

  • small scaly patches
  • moles that are irregularly shaped, contain many colors, are larger than a pencil eraser, or have changed appearance
  • any sore that doesn't heal

If you notice anything unusual, check with your doctor. These, and other skin changes, can be early warning signs of skin cancer.

Protect Your Eyes

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyesIn the short-term, squinting can cause headaches and fatigue. But more importantly, over time the sun's UV rays can lead to cataracts. Protect your eyes with sunglasses.

Other Ways to Get Relief from the Summer Sun

This is what we came up with. We would love to hear your ideas if we missed anything. Please leave a comment!

Two last tips for you:

  • One thing that doesn't work, but is so tempting... complaining about it! Keep a positive attitude.
  • Keep your perspective. Weren't we just complaining about being too cold a few months ago?
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Katherine is our Content Champion. She has done triathlons in the past, and now focuses on mountain biking and long-distance gravel riding. She still has a soft spot in her heart for weird multi-sport events like indoor triathlon and aquabike. She also teaches indoor cycling.

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