Tips for keeping cool when the running gets hot
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Here are some top tips for running when the temperature starts to rise.
Consider your kit
Carefully think about what you wear to run in the heat. Loose, light-colored sports clothing is ideal. Items should be listed as breathable and moisture-wicking. What this means is that moisture (i.e., sweat) is “wicked” away from the skin and towards the outer layers of the fabric, where they can more easily evaporate.
Wearing white and other light colors will help to reflect light away and keep you cooler.
Wear a hat or bandana
The main reasons for wearing something like a cap or a bandana are to keep the sun’s rays away your head and protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
A hat will also cause your head to sweat more, which will further cool you down. A good running hat will also allow a good airflow to the head, again helping to reduce your temperature.
Hydrate before you go
When we run, we sweat, and so we lose body fluids. When exercising in the heat it is impossible to keep drinking enough to maintain your hydration levels, so we must ensure we are well-hydrated before we start.
Did you know that even a 1% loss in the body’s water levels equates to a 10% drop in performance?
Everyone has heard the recommendation to drink two liters of water a day, but this is just a normal day in average weather conditions and without high-intensity exercise. Given the heat and a run, you should be looking at more like three liters (just over 100 oz.) over the course of 24 hours!
Take water with you
For short runs (under 30 minutes) in average to moderate heat, you could get away with not taking any water with you. But for longer runs in the heat, you need to find a way that works for you to ensure you can take on fluid as you go.
Some people are happy to carry a bottle as they run. This is certainly the simplest and cheapest option. There are many available, in different sizes and with different handles depending on what you find more comfortable.
If you can’t get on with this, you could try “water stations.” One option is to go out in the car before your run and place a couple of bottles along your route.
Just make sure you a) put them in discreet locations where they won’t get picked up by someone else and b) put them in a bin when finished! The other option for this is if you know people who live along your route, ask them to leave you a bottle of water outside their house!
Failing this, a hydration backpack is a great option. You wear these on your back just like a rucksack. It has a pouch inside that you fill with water and a straw so you can sip as you go!
Pick your times and routes
If possible, choose to run either first thing in the morning, or later in the evening when the heat has died down and the sun is no longer at its strongest.
Choose your route carefully to try to incorporate plenty of shade where possible and avoid doing those massive hill runs for now!
It’s so easy to forget the sun protection when you’re going out to exercise. We all remember it if we go to the beach or are spending time out in the garden, but you need to wear it for your runs, too!
Monitor your heart rate and other vital signs
It’s always handy to know your heart rate to help you know how hard you’re working and if you can push a little harder or if you should back off. Wearing a heart rate monitor whilst running in the sun is definitely recommended.
This could give you an early warning sign of heat exhaustion. Keep your heart rate within 90% of your maximum. If it rises above this, slow down or rest in the shade until it drops.
Stop if you don’t feel good
Don’t push yourself. If you’re not feeling good, just stop. It can be so easy to just carry on but you could end up with heat exhaustion or even heat stroke if you carry on when feeing less than good.
The first signs of heat illness are fatigue, headache, dizziness, confusion, fainting, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin and a rapid, faint heartbeat.
When you’ve finished your run, slowly let your body temperature return to normal. Walk and stretch in the shade for a few minutes and then sit in the shade with a cool drink.
As well as losing water when we sweat, we also lose salt and other electrolytes that our body needs for normal functioning. It is important to replace these as well as the water. Drink an isotonic sports drink to help with this.
Once your heart rate has come back down to near resting levels, go for a lukewarm shower.
It is then recommended to eat something with a good source of carbohydrates and protein 30-60 minutes after your run. Continue to replenish your fluid levels and avoid long periods of exposure to the full sun for the rest of the day!
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