Five Tips for Running in the Heat
Hot weather might be a rare issue when you’re running in the UK but if you are training abroad, or competing in a marathon that takes place in sunnier climes, it can create some real challenges. Next time you’re looking to survive a run under the sun, follow our top five tips to help you keep your cool.
Make sure you are wearing lightly coloured and loose-fitting running gear. Pale colours reflect the sun’s rays better and baggy clothes help take advantage of any breeze, including the one you make yourself by running. Technical t-shirts can allow sweat to pass through them and evaporate, which keeps your core temperature lower. Sunglasses and waterproof sunscreen are a necessity, while a hat or visor to protect your face is also a good idea. Don’t go for a tight-fitting hat or one made from thick material though, as it is important to lose heat through your head.
Get your timing right
When training in the heat, you should avoid running between midday and 15:00 when the sun is at its strongest. Most marathons in hot countries will bear that in mind when arranging their start times. The air quality is also at its best in the morning, making this an ideal time to run. Sticking to routes that provide a lot of shade can make a difference too.
If you’re running for 45 minutes or less, drinking water alone is fine. But if you’re going for longer, and especially for marathon distances, you should ideally consume around 235ml of sports drink every 20 minutes to help maintain electrolyte levels and refuel your muscles. Even if you don't feel thirsty, drink at least 225ml of fluid each hour. You should be hydrated ahead of your run too – drinking 450ml of water two hours before you start will ensure you’re well set. Work out the easiest way for you to carry bottles while you’re out and about, whether that be in a bag, a holster, or simply in your hand. Different people prefer different methods but there is always a way. Avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol before runs as they increase urine output which can make you even more dehydrated.
Start slowly and know when to stop
When the sun is beating down, it’s particularly beneficial to start your run a bit slower than usual. If you normally run at eight-minute mile pace, try to run 10-minute miles – it will take you longer to overheat. If you feel you’re becoming too hot, know when to stop as heat-induced illness can be serious. Headaches, confusion, loss of muscular control, hot and cold flushes, over-sweating, clammy skin and an upset stomach are all signs of impending heat illness. If you feel any of these, seek shade, drink and try and get yourself a ride home.
Make use of water
Obviously, if you’re heading overseas to run a marathon, you’ll have to stick to the course planned by the organisers, but if you’re training in the heat, try to choose a route that passes near water. It is usually cooler and breezier near water so running alongside it can help keep your core temperature down. Whether you run next to a river, stream, lake or even the sea, the lower temperature should make you feel a lot less tired. Marathon organisers in hot countries know this – the likes of the Rio de Janeiro and Dubai Marathons both take place next to the sea. Finishing your run with a brief swim can also be a good way to cool down quickly on a hot day.