Running and hot weather can be a difficult combination; an increase in temperature over the summer months can slow you down and make you sweaty – but more importantly, it can be dangerous for your health if you’re not careful.
Whether you’re training for a marathon, maintaining a strict fitness regime, or simply want to work out in the summer, then you might not want to let the heat interfere with your progress.
In this post, we’ll be covering six things that you need to consider if you’re running in the heat; If you want to beat the heat and carry on with your workouts, read on.
1. Stay hydrated
The main, number one thing that you need to consider when you’re running in the heat is staying hydrated.
Obviously, it’s super important to drink plenty of water when you work out normally, but it’s even more crucial when you decide to exercise at a higher temperature.
When you run in the heat, you lose fluid at a fast rate because your body is sweating to lower your core temperature, so you need to drink at a faster rate too.
Always take a bottle of water out running with you, and if possible, drink an electrolyte drink like that will rebalance your body and replace the minerals like magnesium and iron that you lose through sweating.
It’s important to start off well hydrated, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids before you set off on your run too.
2. Wear the right clothes
If you’re running in the heat, you need to consider your running outfit. Wearing the right gear can make a huge difference to how your body handles the heat.
For example, you should aim to wear lighter colors to reflect the sunlight and avoid storing heat. Wearing black will absorb and trap heat in, making you feel hot and bothered when you least want to be!
Think about the fabrics you wear too; cotton clothes will absorb sweat easily and feel damp and heavy throughout your run.
Wearing a decent moisture-wicking high impact sports bra won’t only support your breasts; it will also draw sweat away from your skin and up through the material. This allows the sweat to evaporate and keep you cool, preventing heat from building up under your clothes and elevating your temperature even more.
3. Eat the right pre-run food
Just as you would vary your wardrobe to work out in the heat, you should also vary your diet. Eating the right food for summer running can give your body the nutrition it needs to perform its best.
The best food to eat before running in the heat? There’s the obvious, such as easily-digestible carbs (like bananas, sweet potato, and pasta), as well as certain unexpected foods that are best for summer runs, such as antioxidant-rich blueberries and spinach – which is packed full of performance-enhancing nitrates.
And the food to avoid? Anything protein-heavy – like meat-focused meals or snacks such as jerky. These are fine in normal running conditions, but your body needs to use more energy to digest and process proteins – which your body can’t afford when you’re already putting all your energy into running in the heat.
Spicy food can also make you sweat more and cause your digestive system some upset while you’re running, so it’s a good idea to avoid this too.
4. Adjust your run accordingly
Although it can be tempting to throw yourself into a run in the same way you would in normal conditions (especially if you’re gearing up to a big race or sticking to a fitness regime), you should adjust your run accordingly.
These are the best ways you can adjust your workout when it’s hot outside:
- Make your warm-ups shorter: you don’t want to waste much of your precious energy on warming up when it’s hot, so stick to a limited warm-up to limber up your muscles.
- Adjust your goals: be realistic – you’re unlikely to achieve the same times when you’re running in extreme heat or humidity, and trying to do so could be a real health risk. Start off slower than you normally would – finishing safely is better than not finishing at all.
- Change your route: incorporate more shade into your run by running through a wooded park or down streets where the buildings and trees will provide more respite from the sun.
- Change your running times: avoid the midday sun and running when it’s hottest (between 11am and 3pm). Instead, run in the early morning or when it has cooled down in the evening.
5. Protecting your skin and your eyes
Preparing for a run in the heat isn’t just about wearing the right clothes and fuelling your body with the right food for the high temperature – you also need to think about the impact that the sun will have on you too.
It’s all too easy to get burnt when you’re competing in a race or out on a long run, because slapping on the suntan lotion is the last thing on your mind (even though it really shouldn’t be).
If you’re going to be exposed to the hot rays of the summer sun, then you should apply at least an SPF15 to your sun (there are many sweat-resistant, running-proof options available). You should also wear sunglasses that protect your eyes and filter out harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Lastly, think about wearing a visor or a cap; this will protect your head from the harsh sun and cast shade on your eyes and your face. Remember, heatstroke is not fun.
6. Know your body: If you feel bad at any point, stop
Staying safe when you’re working out in the heat needs to be your number one priority.
If you start to feel bad at any point during your run – e.g. starting to feel sick, dizzy, too hot, having problems with your balance or vision, or your heart feels like it’s beating way too fast – then stop. Find some shade, drink some water, and sit this one out.
Running in the summer is not okay if it’s putting your body in danger; heat and humidity can put an exceptional strain on your body, so pay attention to any warning signs and don’t be afraid to take a rest.
If you’re planning on running in the heat this summer, it’s important to consider these six things. Follow the tips that we’ve mentioned in this post to put your comfort and safety first, keep cool and hydrated, and to avoid taking any risks.