Running in the heat!
Running in the summer and the heat
The thought of running in the heat this summer, for many, fills them with dread. This doesn’t need to be the case if we take a sensible approach and think about the following:
- Even though we all tend to prefer Spring and Autumn running - running in the Summer does bring benefits, not only do we have more daylight hours to play with, our fitness levels tend to naturally be higher in the summer as we are taking part in a lot more outdoor activities, gardening and cutting the grass for example!
- Pick your time wisely! We all know that the sun is at its hottest between 11-3pm so it wouldn’t be wise to choose this window of time to do your interval session or threshold session. Choose cooler parts of the day to make it more comfortable for you. If you don’t have any other choice but to run during these hours, make sure these runs are easy recovery runs and you start off super slow to ease yourself into them .
- Think about your kit! Your kit needs to be of good quality, lightweight, light in colour, plenty of air vents and able to wick sweat away from the body to keep you dry. A sun hat, sunglasses and SPF are all key pieces for your summer running kit also.
- Keep well hydrated! This is important all year round but even more so when it’s scorching outside. The easiest way to tell if you are hydrated enough is checking the colour of your pee…as long as it is clear-light yellow, you know you are hydrated, if it is any darker, you need to drink more. Sports drinks and electrolyte tablets are wise choices for staying hydrated in the summer because they will increase your water absorption rate and replace the electrolytes you lose when your sweat. They also taste pretty nice too! Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before your runs also is key, these both increase urine output which can make you even more dehydrated.
- Have patience! Be patient when your training starts in the heat and the summer, your body will need a good couple of weeks to acclimatise to the hotter conditions so don’t look for too much too soon. Gradually ease your way into summer running before you get burnt (!) out.
- Find the shade! Regardless of the time you run, it is still wise to seek out shadier spots when you can, parks, trails with lots of trees can help with this.
- Work to effort and not pace. Your pace when you run in the heat will be a lot different to when you are running in cooler conditions. Don’t panic, this is normal and must be accounted for. That’s why it’s really important to run to the given effort rather than a set pace which may risk you end up running too hard in the heat. Your heart rate will also be naturally elevated more than normal in the heat, be aware of this and adjust your runs accordingly.
- If you are running early to avoid the heat, it’s still really important that you do eat before your longer runs and harder sessions. These sessions need energy and carbohydrate and in the heat you can actually burn carbohydrate at a faster rate. Don’t make the classic mistake of not fuelling before your long run or harder session just because it is too early. Try to snack on a light but carb full breakfast before you head out…fuel is key! This may mean a bit of extra planning in terms of sleep and setting alarms but it is vital to run well and fell good.
- Know when to stop. Heat related illnesses can be really serious, be really sensible when running in the heat and if at any point you feel unwell or not right, stop, seek shade, rehydrate and get someone to take you home.
- If it really is too hot to run on a particular day, hit the air-conditioned gym for some cross training instead. Or try some aqua-jogging in the pool to keep you extra cool! Remember this is all to follow the current government guidelines and any social distancing that applies.
- Top tip! Run in a lightweight light coloured cap and soak this in cold water before you start and during a run on a hot day. Sip your sports drink to thirst but pour cold water over your thighs, neck and head (soaking your cap) to help cool the body and core temperature.