Whether you’re planning on running a marathon overseas, fancy a jog whilst on holiday or like to pound the pavements at all times of the year, running when it’s hot is no easy feat.
Higher temperatures not only affect your performance, but can take their toll on your body, so extra care is needed if you run when the mercury rises. Here are some tips for hot weather runners.
Hydration is key
Staying hydrated is important when you exercise at any time of year, but especially so if you run when it’s hot. Your body sweats more to cool itself down, which places higher demands on hydration levels. Always drink water before you run – aim for 450ml two hours beforehand. But, you’ll also need to have a drink to hand during runs (especially those longer than half an hour) and afterwards.
Your body also loses salt and minerals when it’s hot, so keep electrolytes topped up by consuming a sports drink (around 235ml) every 20 minutes or so of your run.
Wear light-coloured, loose, moisture-wicking fabrics to avoid clothes sticking to your skin during hot weather. Wearing a hat won’t cool your head, so instead, if you want to keep the sun off your face, stick to a visor. Don’t forget to slap on a waterproof sunscreen, which will keep your skin protected from the sun’s harsh rays, even when you start to sweat.
Plan your route
When it’s baking outside it makes sense to plan a running route that keeps you as cool as possible. Avoid running on tarmac or concrete surfaces, as these absorb heat and reflect it back to you. Instead, seek out shady spots such as forests or run near areas of water such as lakes or the sea. Water lowers the air temperature slightly and creates a welcoming breeze. Stick to running in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. Depending on the temperature and your location, you might want to avoid exercising anytime between 10am and 4pm.
Slow your pace
It’s essential that you recognise and accept that you won’t be able to run to your optimum best when it’s sweltering outside. Higher temperatures increase your heart rate and cardiovascular system, putting extra demands on the body. Therefore, slow your pace down and adjust any targets accordingly. For example, add a couple of extra minutes onto each mile you run when it’s hot. It’s also useful to know that your body warms up quicker when it’s hot, so you can probably keep warm-ups to a minimum.
Know the danger signs
If you slowly acclimatise to running when it’s hot and take care to stay hydrated, you can benefit from training under these conditions. For example, your body’s blood circulation and sweating systems can become more efficient.
However, running when it’s hot outside isn’t without its dangers, and if you don’t heed the warnings, it can have serious consequences. That’s why it’s crucial to recognise when your body is struggling to cope with the heat and you need to take a break, find shade and cool down. Never ignore symptoms such as headaches, hot and cold flashes, confusion or dizziness. Even feeling thirsty is a sign that your body is dehydrated, typically meaning that you’ve already lost around 1% of body fluids.