We may all love a bit of sunshine, especially when you live somewhere where it rains a lot, but running in the heat is TOUGH.
It’s all too easy to abandon training plans or end up running into trouble by being too ambitious. I know, I’ve been there!
Here are my top 11 tips for running in the heat (based on five years experience living in a very hot country)…
Hydrate Before You Run
In my view this it the most important tip. If you wait until you start running, it’s too late. You need to be fully hydrated before you set off.
If you have a race in the heat coming up, keep sipping water the day before. Now you don’t need to go crazy and drink more than you need, (hyponatremia is a real risk all runners should be aware of), but let’s face it – most of us don’t drink enough.
So don’t neglect your hydration. Give your body a chance by topping up your fluid levels in good time before you start to run.
Take Fluids With You
When it’s really hot or for longer runs, make sure you take fluids with you. Sipping from a soft flask or hand-held water bottle can make all the difference when you’re running in the heat.
For longer runs carry plenty of fluids. It’s always best to take too much, than find yourself blowing up half-way through a run still a long way from home.
Start Off Slowly
It’s best to ease into a run and this is especially true when it’s hot. Start off slowly and you can always pick up the pace if you’re feeling okay.
Running in the heat places a big toll on your body. If the weather has suddenly got a lot hotter, you’ll need a chance to adapt.
Save intense workouts for cooler days or when your body has adjusted to the higher temperatures.
Run In The Early Morning
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.Noel Coward
Instead of struggling under the intense midday heat, try and run in the early morning. There’s something very special about being out before the day starts to heat up.
Running in the evening is also an option but it’s never quite as cool.
Run In The Shade
In summer it’s often best to choose your running routes wisely. Running along trails through the woods on a summer’s day can be deliciously cool. Flogging across sun-baked fields, not so much.
Pick routes that stay out of direct sunlight or head to the hills where it’s often a lot cooler.
Dress For The Sun
Light colors reflect the heat, looser fitting tops from wicking materials will help you stay cool, and think twice before you opt for a skimpy vest.
When the sun’s intense, it’s best to cover up. Keeping your shoulders covered is a good idea. Waking up to sunburn the next day is serious not fun.
Use High Factor Sun Cream
When the sun’s out, I always reach for SPF 50 (sun protection factor). Sweat just seems to wash off anything else and it’s just best to go for maximum protection.
Maybe Factor 50 is a hangover from running in desert temperatures but in my view sunburn sucks. Just avoid and protect your skin.
Get Your Shades Out + Wear A Cap
Shades don’t just protect your eyes from UV, they add style to any outfit. Running in summer is the one chance you get to wear shades without looking pretentious.
Add a cap to your running outfit. It helps to keep you cool and stops the sun ruining your hair.
Go For Short Runs
Don’t underestimate the effects of the heat. On really hot days it can be dangerous to run for longer periods.
Pick a short running route or take a rest day. Sometimes you just need to be realistic.
Take Your Training Indoors
Trying to fit in a speed session? Assuming your gym has air conditioning, running on a treadmill may be your only option.
It’s a way of staying out of the heat and a good choice if you’re in serious training for a race.
Be Aware Of Warning Signs
Every runner should be aware of the warning signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. When you’re running you need to stay in tune with your body and watch out for signs you’ve had enough of the heat.
Running regularly in a hot country for 5 years, I could tell when enough was enough. Sense when my core temperature was starting to rise. Lack of sweating or a drop in sweating rate was always a big indicator.
If this happens to you, stop running, find some shade, lie down and elevate your legs, sip fluids. Try and get medical help.
Running in the cool of a summer morning is one of my favorite things, and when you’re sensible and take precautions, summer running can be wonderful. I hope you find these tips helpful…