On July 4, 1980, I ran my first 5K or 3.1-mile race at a mall in Alexandria. I had been running for a couple of years and was very nervous, but my older sister encouraged me to give it a try. I learned a great deal from my first experience. If you are considering running a 5K, make it a memorable one by knowing how to prepare.

Several years ago I had a job that required me to work a split shift, forcing me to go out in the middle of the afternoon for my daily run. In the summer I had to take special precautions to avoid overheating and heat stroke. During the upcoming months, consider the following suggestions for surviving the summer heat.

  • Take your exercise inside. Most fitness facilities have several options for indoor exercising, including treadmills. Although running in place can be monotonous, use music and television to ease boredom.
  • Exercise in the cool part of the day. I find the early morning hours to be the coolest.
  • Don’t wear cotton clothing. Invest in clothing made of moisture-wicking material. This new fabric breathes and releases moisture to the skin for evaporation and therefore cooling.
  • Wear a light colored hat with a brim. Light colored hats won’t absorb heat like darker ones do. Hats keep the bright sun out of your eyes and provide some protection from the sun’s rays. Those with a sweat band insert help to keep sweat out of your eyes.
  • Carry a small washcloth with you. Use it to wipe away sweat before it gets in your eyes where it can cause burning and obscure vision.
  • Make sure water is available. Carry water with you in a fanny pack or know where water faucets/fountains are located along your route.
  • Reduce your training. Save the long, hard workouts for cooler weather.
  • Wear sunscreen. Most runners and walkers think they are impervious to skin cancer. They aren’t. My dermatologist advised me to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
  • Run in shady areas. Choose areas with lots of trees to avoid the direct sun.
  • Hydrate well. This should be true year round but especially in the summer. Don’t just drink water during the run but hydrate well every day of these hot and humid conditions.
  • Use Vaseline. A trick I learned a long time ago was to apply Vaseline to my eyebrows. Vaseline causes the sweat to fall in big drops keeping most of the sweat out of your eyes. Also during high heat and humidity use Vaseline on areas that are most vulnerable to chafing.
  • Don’t let the heat of summer cause you to put your exercise regimen on the back burner. Remember to take the necessary precautions to avoid heat-related injuries. Hang in there and remember that cooler weather is right around the corner.

FITNESSTIP: When exercising in the heat, know when to stop. Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related problems. These include nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, hot flushed dry skin, rapid heart rate, decreased sweating and shortness of breath.