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Beat the heat by hitting the trails

Get off the roads to stay cool this summer

Canadian summer is in full swing, and in many regions, temperatures are hitting record highs (B.C., we’re looking at you). This, of course, makes running a whole lot harder. Staying cool on summer runs is certainly a challenge, but one way you can beat the heat is simply by ditching the roads and taking your run to the trails. Here’s why:

Running Nova Scotia’s North Granite Ridge Trail. Photo: Rob Chambers

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This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. When the temperatures are soaring, running beneath the hot sun makes it even worse, and can lead to other issues like sunburn, or even sunstroke, if you’re not careful. Running on a shady, tree-lined trail will instantly make you feel cooler and keep the sun off your back.

A slower pace

The key to success during summer running is to modify your expectations. When it’s 35 C and 80 per cent humidity, you just won’t be able to run as fast as you can when it’s cool and dry. For this reason, it’s important to slow down and simply do the best you can under the circumstances. Hopping on a trail is a great way to help you do this, because the undulating terrain and more precarious footing that you usually encounter on a trail will force you to slow down. This way, you can stop worrying about pace and just run by effort.

Water stops

OK, so this doesn’t necessarily apply to every trail, but if you’re lucky there might be a stream, river, or even a waterfall on your route where you can cool off. Unless you routinely carry a filter or water purification tablets, we don’t recommend drinking the water (you should definitely bring your own water bottle with you), but there’s no better feeling than splashing some cool water on your face or down your back in the middle of a hot run. Or, you can soak your shirt in the water and wear it for the rest of your run to stay cool — just avoid standing water, which may not be clean.

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