Running in the Heat
You may have noticed that it's been rather warm of late and you may also have found that it's felt a little more difficult to run... Is your breathing heavy? Does it feel like you're dragging rocks around with you?
As soon as the weather hots up, the harder it is for the body to keep cool and the harder it has to work. The heart rate and breathing becomes more difficult (sorry you folks who are into heart rate training). Less blood is available to transport oxygen to the muscles when it's hot, because, the body directs the blood to the skin to cool off via sweating. This means that an easy run, feels like a full on training session...
However, if you are tempted to hide away and hang up your running gear for a few months until this passes - don't despair... check out our top 11 list of how to look after yourself whilst running in the hot weather:
Rule number 1 always has to be listen to your own body
If it feels too much and you are suffering, consider that NOT running might actually be a good thing. The human body is very clever and can adapt itself - but if you're not feeling it - then don't do it! There is always tomorrow! You could consider other forms of cross-training too. A walk, a swim or a yoga session are excellent ways to compliment your training.
Wear fewer clothes
It may seem obvious, but if the mercury is rising, then wear fewer clothes. Seriously people, long leggings and running jackets are really not needed in these conditions (we say this as our good friend turned up in exactly this on our weekend run - and it was hot!!) - unless of course you're looking to lose as much liquid as possible on street. Also, keep it legal please... (running in your thong might be a little too much for some onlookers) cropped tops and shorts are fine, light-coloured and loose, wicked clothing is the best, leave the dark, cotton joggers at home. However, one little life-saver we've found is Body Glide to prevent chafing. Fabulous for in between your thighs and the tops of the arms.
Sunscreen is your friend
Sadly, skin cancer is on the rise - it is an absolute must to wear sunscreen out on your run - even if it's cloudy! Make sure that it's at a higher than SPF30 and that it's sweat-proof - it's nasty stuff if it get's in your eyes! Don't forget the tops of your ears, your nose and the back of your neck - even if you're well covered up with clothing, these areas are generally on show!
Don't forget your hat
As well as protecting your from the sun, a hat or a visor keeps your face shaded. You can soak your hat in cold water before your run, or consider popping it in the freezer for a few hours before you head out. It'll help to keep your body temperature lower.
Retain your energy - wear sunglasses (yes really)
Of course it's not going to keep you cool... but, it can actually help your run. As you begin to squint, your brain is focused on working hard to help your eyes. This actually uses energy... yes all that adds up. Keeping your face relaxed gives your eyes a break - fabulous!
Get yourself our early before the sun comes up
If you're an early riser, head out early. As well as having the streets to yourself, it's often much cooler at around 5-6am. An added bonus is that you get to spend some time with nature. The birds are generally busy at this time and it's amazing which other wildlife may be wandering around the local park...
If you're a night owl head out after dark
As above, the later you run, the cooler it will be as the sun sets and once again there are fewer people around at this time. Everybody is settling down and you get to play out in the peace and quiet.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate (but not too much)
Even if you're out for a short run, it's wise when it's super hot to carry some water with you. There are some fabulous hydration belts or vest available these days and are a super investment, especially if you're not one for carrying something in your hands. The inner of the hydration packs can be frozen which means by the time you need a swig, it'll be chilled, but melted enough to drink. Our favourite is the Salomon running bottle which can be popped down the waistband of your shorts and we've found the best for non-leakage... Just be careful not to over-hydrate! One little hack is to pop a tiny amount of juice in your water to look after those important electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride and calcium) to keep the system balanced.
Use your head
Wrapping ice in a bandana or in the top of your hat, keeps your head cool. Another cool trick is to use your bandana filled with ice, tie it and then it can hang down the back of the neck - as it melts there is a constant trickle of water down your back.
Slow down people
It's not a race (unless you are indeed in a race), slow down and allow your body to adapt to the warmer temperature. After a gentle warm up, you may feel like hitting some intervals - but maybe consider doing fewer reps and going gentle for a change and always finish nice and slow to regulate your heart rate. Sometimes a slow gentle run can be good for us - your body will thank you!
Yes seriously - nobody is making you run! Smiling makes you feel better because it’s hard to have both positive and negative thoughts at the same time… so c'mon give us a grin!
On the plus side, the body is pretty amazing and acclimatises to the heat and humidity really quickly, plus our muscles love a bit of heat to really get a good work-out. Therefore, it can help us to run more efficiently if we're careful. Don't forget - it'll be freezing again very soon - so enjoy and use your friend common sense!