Monday, 6 July 2015

Running in hot weather

Running in the summer is a real delight but there are some things to take into account.  Before I head into my Top Tips I'd like to say the subject of pushing ourselves too hard in hot weather can have serious consequences, so read on and take it easy.  It has been said that the moment you feel thirsty that is a sign of already being dehydrated and this can lead to drastic underperformance.

1 Hydration
Yes we all know hydration is important and yet we can easily get this wrong.  I think it's best to drink little and often well before a hot run i.e. several hours beforehand.  Believe me here - it is possible to drink too much and sometimes this can be extremely serious - so just be sensible.  Besides, running with too much food or water sloshing around is probably close to feeling pregnant while running.

In terms of what to drink, yes plain water is generally what the body needs.  However do take into account the loss of minerals and electrolytes when you're sweating or working hard.  This leads to an imbalance in the body which in turn can lead to muscle cramps either right there and then or anytime until you have taken some more electrolytes on board.  I use High 5 generally and these work pretty well; alternatively a sports drink should do the trick (a time when paying the rip-off price is worth it).

2  Check your pee
Check the colour of your pee; might sound distasteful for some but it needs to be done.  Again, we all know about this but how often to we do this?  Ideally it needs to be a very pale yellow.  Progressively darker colours indicate increasingly dehydration.

3  Time of day
If you are determined to run in hot weather, why not try running at the cooler part of the day?  This means aiming of the morning as the coolest part of the day.  Besides, running early in the morning has so many advantages, least of all it has been said you're more likely to get into a long-lasting running habit.

4 Go for shade, not open sunlight
If you can, aim for running in shady parts such as woodland areas, the shady side of the street etc.  Staying out of the direct sunlight is an obvious one but also an urban environment will probably be even warmer as concrete, buildings, tarmac etc tends to retain and radiate heat.

5 Clothing
Yes, you could run half naked as I did in the above photo.  That was in Spain and while we were on holiday a few years ago.  Seriously, that's okay for running along a holiday beach in Spain but it's important to remember there's a time and place for doing this.

Ordinarily in warm weather I will wear a short sleeve top, close fitting and, as always, a technical material.  This means it is synthetic and draws perspiration away from the body and allows it to evaporate (unlike cotton which absorbs and remains soggy - ugh!).

Don't forget to wear shorts and not the very common three quarter length black tights which seem all-the-rage nowadays.  I'm not sure if runners prefer these as a reasonable compromise between modesty and functionality?  A good pair of running shorts is inexpensive, they will last for years and years and not chaff or rub in anyway.  I favour Ron Hill running shorts (they do different types) and something these are essential in a runner's wardrobe.

6  Other things
Sunblock, hats, sunglasses etc - use as appropriate.

7  Urgent medical problems
Things can go wrong for people and I remember running a marathon a couple of years back when the temperature was, in my view, pleasantly warm throughout and yet a number of other runners were fainting and needing urgent help.  Do be aware of this, either for yourself or if you come across anyone else who might be suffering from heat exhaustion or other problems

Collective signs are confusion, dizziness, maybe a loss of coordination, headache, rise in body temperature and feeling clammy.  Generally the solution is sitting in the shade and cooling down.  Some cases may require urgent medical attention and so do bear this in mind, either for someone else or yourself.

8  Above all, running in warm sunny conditions is lovely
It lifts my mood and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face is a welcome sensation.  Although there are some practical things to consider, if you're sensible there's no reason to not enjoy maintaining your weekly mileage even in hot conditions by changing the time of day and where you run.

Take good care, choose well and enjoy it!

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