Coaching tip: Running in the heat

Do you run, sweat, suffer and complain? Bask in the heat? Or cancel your run altogether?
The good news is that you body temperature can safely rise a little without much consequence according to experts, and humans have mechanisms like the evaporative cooling of sweat to help them stay safe. But there are precautions you should take when running in heat, especially if you haven’t yet acclimatised, like those listed below. Don’t forget, the further or harder you plan to run, the more diligent you need to be about staying cool.
  • Go out when its cooler – early morning is cooler than late at night, but wherever possible don’t go out in the middle of the day.
  • Adjust your pace – go by effort and don’t worry if you are as much as 30-60s slower per mile. By running slower you reduce the amount of heat your body produces as you run and you can then run for longer.
  • Shorten your run if needed – especially if its humid as humidity impedes the sweat process so you don’t cool as efficiently.
  • Don’t forget the sun protection – sun cream or block, a visor or sunglasses to protect your eyes, too.
  • Keep hydrated, and replace electrolytes – before and during your run, drink little and often, especially if you are a salty sweater (if your dog licks your legs after a run, that’s you!). If you don’t want to carry water when you run, plan a looped route and hide some in nearby bushes etc.
  • Plan your route carefully – Try and run as much in the shade as possible. Running in the sun will increase your core temperature, not only because it is hot, but its rays bounce back at you from surfaces. Trail running in wooded areas are great for this.
  • Vaseline is your friend! If you are going long and will sweat, make sure you put Vaseline or body glide on parts likely to chafe.
  • Dress appropriately – light, sweat wicking clothes, and wear a buff round your wrist to wipe your face down. This helps with the sweat wicking process, stops sweat and sun cream getting in your eyes and makes you feel a tad less disgusting if you run into a friend…. Wetting a buff and putting it round your neck and head may also help.
  • If it is a long hot spell, go out regularly to help your body adapt to the heat. This isn’t a quick process, but you will acclimatise over time.
  • Rehydrate after your run with water and electrolytes. Read the coaching tip on hydration to help you calculate your sweat rate and know that you are getting enough fluid back in.
As for cancelling your run, there’s rarely any need in the UK and you can run on most hot days with a little common sense. Although if you are looking for an excuse, the American College of Sports medicine advises running event cancellations at 27c (82F), and a 2010 US study was even more conservative, advising the cancellation of large marathons at 22c (72F). On the other hand, Badwater, the 153 mile ultramarathon in California’s Death Valley, that takes place in temperatures of up to 53c and will melt the soles of your running shoes, started on 19th July. Just be glad you’re not there!
Enjoy the summer, and don’t worry, we’ll soon be able to complain that its rainy, dark and cold when we run…
If you have any advice for your fellow runners out in the heat, please do share.

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

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Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

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