When the mercury rises, make sure you are properly prepared for your run. The summer sun and heat can do a number on your body both mentally and physically. You need to prepare for it and one of the best ways to do this is to acclimatize yourself to the summer weather.
Running can be challenging at the best of times, and when the temperature starts to warm up outside, it can get even harder. It's important to be careful when running in the heat, especially if you are not used to it. Heat can be very dangerous and causes a multitude of issues including heat stroke and severe dehydration which can lead to very serious health problems.
This article is not meant to scare you but to give you some tips on how you can carry on running safely in the heat.
1. Timing is everything
If it has warmed up in the area where you are running, then running very early in the morning or at the end of the day is your best bet, rather than right in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest. If you really only have time to run at the height of day in the heat, then consider going to the gym, if you are a member and enjoy the air conditioning. If you don't have a gym membership, then try going to your local mall. It's not only climate controlled, but most malls have adopted an attitude to opening up their doors to early morning, lunchtime and evening "Mall-Walkers". Some have even stenciled footprints for you to follow as a track, marking out a walkers path for your convenience. So take advantage of this great way to beat the summer heat!
2. Drink Drink Drink
Make sure you drink plenty of water beforehand so you are hydrated, but not so much as to feel bloated. In addition, don’t forget to take a drink with you on your run and drink water at regular intervals, or plan a route where you know there are plenty of water stops. It is important to drink water anyway, but in the heat it's vital. One great water carrying bottle is the Avex Brazos Stainless Steel AutoSeal Water Bottle It will keep drinks cold for 20 hours without the outer shell sweating for an improved grip. This water bottle features a one-touch AUTOSEAL lid that automatically seals between sips to eliminate spills and leaks
Sports drinks that contain electrolytes are a great option in addition to water as part of training in the heat as they replace the electrolytes that you lose when sweating. They can also increase your water absorption. A great product to help you ease your thirst and replenish those lost electrolytes is the Nuun All Day Sugar-Free Vitamin, Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tablets
3. Stop if you feel unwell
Be aware of the signs of dehydration and heat stroke, and if you feel unwell, stop. Do not try to push through as you could end up becoming very ill. Often with dehydration, you can actually feel cold and shivery even though it is very hot outside. If you do feel unwell, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
4. Carry your phone
If you are running somewhere remote, consider taking your mobile phone with you and a few dollars. So, if you do have trouble, you can call someone to help you or get something to eat or drink and rest for a while. If you don't have a running partner, your phone can be there for you when you need it.
5. Be smart with your running route
If your usual running route does not have much shade and if you are running on a hot day, change the route so that you potentially have more shade, i.e. a route under trees. This will shield you from the sun and the heat. Alternatively, as with tip number one, you could always go to your local gym if you have a membership, and don't forget my favorite, the local mall!.
6. Consider your clothing
Dress appropriately for your run outside. Don't wear too many articles of clothing and wear light weight clothes to ensure you are cool enough. Also, wear a cap/visor and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun, and don't forget the all-important sunscreen.
Take into consideration that you will probably be running more in the early morning or late evening hours. That being said, you're going to need some reflective clothing so that your safer if your route makes use of the local roads. Proviz has a great line of garments that are high visible and will give you the protection when you're running in poor light conditions.
7. Don’t overexert yourself
A very hot day is not the day to try and push yourself to the max. Take it easy when it is hot, unless you are a seasoned runner. You have no idea how your body will react to the temperature. Be prepared to run slower than you would normally.
Running in the heat can be a challenge, but the key is just to be sensible and not to go crazy. Give your body some time to adjust to the heat and play it by ear, but always stop if feeling unwell. Consult your doctor if trying something new for the first time. And don't forget tip number 2, drink plenty of water but not enough to cause bloating.
Now, to some, these tips may seem like no-brainers. But sometimes seeing it in print can help to cement it in your mind for future reference. The important thing is to enjoy your run but also run smart and you will find yourself tallying up the miles no matter how hot this summer season becomes.