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How To Run In The Heat

BY: The Running Channel
10 June 2023

If we could offer you one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. As temperatures rise and the sun blazes, staying safe and cool while running becomes crucial. The exhilaration of a good run in the sunshine can quickly turn into discomfort if you’re not prepared. With tips from The Running Channel, here’s how you can stay cool and well-hydrated during your warm-weather runs.

Keep Hydrated

The significance of staying hydrated while running cannot be understated, especially in hotter climates. Ensuring that you’re well-hydrated before your run is just as important as during. A great way to achieve this is by consuming electrolyte drinks or simply dissolving an electrolyte tablet in water. Electrolytes are crucial as they help transmit signals from your brain to your muscles and are lost during sweating, affecting how your body processes water.

Hyponatremia, a condition caused by drinking excessive amounts of water leading to abnormally low blood salt levels, is a risk to bear in mind. Although it’s quite rare, it can cause your cells to swell and lead to problems ranging from mild to life-threatening.

How can you tell if you’re sufficiently hydrated? The colour of your urine provides a good indicator. Aim for a light straw colour; if it’s too dark, you’re probably not hydrated enough.

Plan Your Hydration on the Go

Some runners dislike carrying water bottles during their runs, and that’s okay. If you’re planning a run of 45 minutes or less, you probably don’t need to carry water with you, regardless of how hot it is. However, ensure you hydrate well before and after your run. For longer runs, consider planning your route around your home or office where you can leave a bottle of water or passing a shop where you can buy one.

Protect Your Skin and Eyes

Invest in some sunscreen for your runs, even short ones. Sports-specific ones are available, but any water-resistant sunscreen will do the job. Avoid applying it on your forehead to prevent it from stinging your eyes. You can use vaseline or body glide from temple to temple to stop the sweat.

Consider wearing a breathable running hat or visor that can help draw sweat away and keep your head cool. If it’s extremely hot, pour some water on your hat to help cool your head. Running sunglasses can also be beneficial in reducing the glare of the sun.

Dress Appropriately

When running in the heat, choose a vest that’s light-coloured and a bit larger to wick sweat away from your skin and reflect the sun’s rays. Loose clothes can help you take advantage of any breeze. Make sure you’re dry before you head out and wear socks and shoes that are well worn in. The heat will increase sweating, which can cause friction and lead to blisters if your footwear isn’t appropriate.

Time Your Runs Wisely

Running in the middle of the day when it’s sweltering is not recommended. Try getting up early to complete your run before the sun has had time to heat things up, or run later in the evening when it’s cooler.

Choose Your Route Smartly

Parks can provide shade and respite from the sun, while coastal areas often offer better breezes and are cooler than inland. Be mindful that tarmac absorbs and radiates heat back at you, so hot days are perfect for heading to the trails for some additional shade and a break from the heat.

Adjust Your Pace

When running in the heat, it’s absolutely fine to decrease your pace. Every three degrees Celsius above 15 degrees could potentially slow your pace by 20 to 30 seconds per mile. The heat impacts everyone differently, so listen to your body and adjust your pace to what feels comfortable for you. This is not the time to strictly follow time targets but to listen to your body and run at a pace that feels right for you.

Pause and Cool Down

Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to take short breaks in the shade to cool down during your run. If you’re using a heart rate monitor, you may notice that your heart rate will be slightly faster than usual when running in the heat, but don’t worry, that’s normal.

Post-Run Rituals

After completing your run, it’s vital to replace any lost fluids by drinking water. You might want to do some cool-down stretches to help bring your body temperature and heart rate down. It could be a good idea to do these in the shade. Following this, taking a cool shower can significantly help to bring down your body temperature. Stay in the shower until you feel that you’ve adequately cooled down.

Just as you would after any workout, make sure to eat something within around 30 minutes of finishing your run, aiming for a good mix of carbs and protein.

Final Thoughts

Running in the heat can be an enjoyable experience if you take the right precautions. Remember, it’s okay to adjust your pace, take breaks, and listen to your body. Don’t overthink it, and make sure you enjoy your run.

In the end, the most important thing is to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Everyone responds differently to heat, so what works for one person may not work for another. Use these tips as a guide, and don’t forget to share any additional tips you may have for running in the heat in the comments below.

Photo credit: Victor Magdeyev / Red Bull Content Pool

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