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Hot tips for summer running

It’s not officially summer yet but the weather forecast for the next week or so is looking continually optimistic. We are all due to get a good dose of vitamin D it seems.  Wonderful.  It’s hotting up across the country – with predictions in some areas, of rising temperatures possibly getting above 30 degrees this weekend.  But this isn’t about forecasting the weather, its about making sure our runners make the most of it wisely and safely.

The heat is the most difficult element for runners to train in and the weather conditions can impact on performance in both the long-term and short-term.  During training or taking part in a race in the heat, your performance suffers for several reasons:-

Firstly, your overall body temperature increases. The higher your core body temperature, the worse you are going to feel.

Second, as soon as the body starts to heat up, blood is diverted to the skin, where cooling takes place through sweating and evaporation. Therefore, less blood is available to deliver oxygen to your working muscles. Less oxygen means you can’t run as fast or as hard and the effort to maintain or increase your pace dramatically increases.

Finally, you become more easily dehydrated in hot and humid conditions. When fluid levels drop, your body’s cooling methods, mainly the ability to sweat, erode and you have a harder time controlling your body temperature. This in turn causes the core body temperature to rise faster and that limits your performance.

So what can you do to help?

Choose the right running gear
Wear loose-fitting and light coloured clothing. Technical t-shirts that are designed to allow perspiration to pass through them and evaporate, may help to reduce core temperatures.

Protect yourself
Wear sunglasses, wear a loose-fitting hat or wear a visor. Apply sunscreen and a little bit of petroleum jelly (or specialist lubricating product) on the feet, under arms and in other sensitive areas help to prevent chaffing or blisters forming.

Get your timing right
Avoid running between noon and 3.00 pm when the sun is strongest. You will enjoy the fresher morning air quality if you go out early.

Pick the right route
Choose shady routes, avoiding hot roads. If you are lucky enough to run by the coast then the sea breeze will be cooling. Running by water or through the woods is also stimulating and can be refreshing.

Stay hydrated
Drinking 500ml of fluid two hours before a run is recommended – try water, a sports drink or diluted fruit juice – and another 150ml of fluid just before you run, you’ll have enough time for your body to clear what you don’t need before you set off. Getting the balance right before, during and after the run is important. It makes sense to carry some liquid with you – if you don’t like carrying a bottle you can get a running belt that accommodates bottles or wear a hydration back pack. It’s also best to avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol before runs as they increase urine output which can make you even more dehydrated.  It just makes sense to be prepared.  See our “pure hydration blog

Pace yourself and know when to stop

Start your run at a pace that is slower than usual. It will take you longer to overheat. If you feel you are getting overly uncomfortable take a rest and go into some shade. Illness caused by heat exhaustion can be serious. If you experience headaches, confusion, loss of muscular control, flushes, clammy skin or upset stomach then this could be a sign that something is wrong. If you feel any of these then STOP.
All that said, there is nothing nicer than getting out for a long scenic run on a glorious day. It promises to be a great bank holiday here in the UK so get out and enjoy it if you can. We wish you happy and safe training and look forward to seeing your entries in some of our forth coming events.