Alton Sports Ambassador, Adam, has very kindly put together all these pro-tips for running in the heat!
With the cold Wintery weather that the ‘Beast from the East’ brought in now a distant memory, I’m sure we have all been making the most of this glorious recent hot sunny weather. We find ourselves amongst so much inspiring national sport at the moment; what we can’t allow is for the hot weather we have been experiencing to put a stop to our training when we have plans and targets in place. Sometimes, it is best to use your head and adapt your sessions/efforts accordingly.
If you find that your long run falls during a hot spell of weather, here are a few pointers to consider before heading out:
- Think about heading out earlier, perhaps set your alarm and complete your run early in the morning before it gets too hot.
- Plan your route to pass water supply points such as shops or petrol stations. This will allow you to remain light weight on your run and maintain hydration at periodic stops.
- Alternatively, you will need to carry water on the run. A specifically designed running vest pack such as these options will allow you to carry water which is easily accessible on your chest. Alternatively, a rucksack with a hydration system bladder will also work.
- While out on your run, it is best to drink fluids little and often, as opposed to large gulps, as this will allow your body to absorb the liquid you take on effectively.
- Wear light fitting clothing to allow the air to circulate about you while you run. This will help you to dissipate your body heat.
- Look where the sun will be on your run and perhaps choose a route in the shade. This may see you heading to the woods, through a forest or an out and back along a shady stream or canal.
- Run next to a body of water such as a lake or a canal, as these can be quite cooling, or run by the sea, as local sea breezes will help keep you cool.
- You may want to minimise your exertion in the heat by selecting a flat route to run along, as opposed to tackling those hills and raising your temperature.
- Hit the trails for a change. If it is hot, then it is likely that there will be little mud about, so take your road runners off road. Sun baked tarmac can radiate a lot of heat, making it especially tough going over a prolonged period.
- When we run in the heat, our bodies try to cool themselves by producing sweat. The body then cools as the sweat evaporates from our skin. The trouble is that as we run, a lot of this sweat forms drops and falls off, therefore not offering the cooling intended. As a result, the body produces more sweat and this is why it is important to replenish the fluid we lose through sweat as we exercise.
- When running in the heat, it is also important to replenish your salt levels as these are reduced through the sweat you produce. I will always run with sports salt tablets, available from the Alton Sports shop. When your salt levels drop, you are susceptible to painful cramps and a drop in your efficiency. The potassium in bananas is not enough to relieve this. Do check the guidelines, but I would consume one tablet every hour with some water while out running in the heat. You may want to consider increasing this if your run efforts are making you particularly sweaty.
- If racing on a hot day, make sure you are well hydrated well in advance of your event, starting the night before. You should not feel thirsty on the start line and your lips should be nice and moist. A drop of just 5% in your body’s hydration level can lead to dramatic effects on your performance and efficiency.
- It is likely that you will sweat out more moisture that you can absorb through the fluids you take on. This will lead to dehydration over time. It is important to drink plenty of fluids after you have finished your run as dehydration can delay your recovery.
- With heat, often comes the Sun! Wear sun cream on your exposed skin to avoid burning yourself.
- Wear a hat and soak it in water. A peaked cap will keep the sun out of your eyes. By soaking your hat in water, the evaporation of the water while on your head will cool you down.
- Blisters on your feet – these are caused by heat and friction, so there is an increased chance of a blister developing in hot conditions. The movement of your feet within your shoes can cause irritations and blisters. So, make sure your trainers are securely fastened to minimise movement. Tend to any hotspots that may develop immediately to avoid further discomfort. Be aware that if you pour water over yourself during a run resulting in your feet getting damp, this will also increase the likelihood of blisters.
Enjoy your time running in the heat. Don’t let it stop you or take the enjoyment away from your running. It is always a good idea to expose your body to these warm conditions as you never know what you may experience on a race day. It does take time for your body to get used to operating in the heat, and this may take some longer than others to adapt.
Check out some hydration packs here.
Words by Adam Marcinowicz