Hot weather is a great time to go running! Lustrous sunshine, runs through the park or on the beach, wearing loose clothing, getting outside more often.
No more runs in the bitter cold; wrapping up in a few layers, losing sensation in your hands, often running in the dark. If you are running through the cold has given you the blues, the sun can be an ideal remedy!
Hold your horses
It’s tempting to jump straight in and run in the sun the same way you’d run any other type of weather (cold, cloudy, mild etc.)
BUT running in the heat puts different demands on your body you must be aware of. Awareness and understanding of running in the heat allows you to prepare for your runs properly.
Why do you need to prepare for hot runs?
Okay, you’re not running in California’s Death Valley which routinely hits 45 degrees during the summer. However, running in the hot weather can – without preparation – throw off even the most seasoned of runners. Risks include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sun burn, heat syncope.
Not on your average wish list.
Following these basic tips when running in the sun to reduce health risks, ensuring you enjoy running in the heat.
Drink one or two 8-ounce glasses of water 10 minutes before heading out, for adequate hydration.
Proper hydration is essential for your body to function properly. All your organs, tissues and cells depend on water to work properly, receive nutrients and minerals and for regulated body temperature.
During and after the run…
Running in hot weather means you’re going to sweat. A lot. Sweat contains bodily electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and bicarbonate which are required for normal bodily functions.
To replace lost electrolytes, drink moderate amounts of electrolyte rich sport drinks like Lucozade, Gatorade and Powerade. You’ll be able to function better and will reduce health risks like heat syncope (fainting due to reduced nutrient rich blood flow to the brain).
2. Sun cream
Sunshine – in moderation -can have some great health benefits like creating vitamin D for bone and immune system health, increasing oxygen content to the blood and helping with low mood.
The key word here is moderation.
Too long in the sun without protection from suncream can leave you sunburnt. Negative effects of sunburn include increased risk of skin cancer, damage to the skin, skin aging faster. Not to mention the embarrassing lobster look and painful touch that comes with sunburn.
Get some sun cream on
Sunscreens reflect and scatter the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, giving you vital protection during runs in the sun. Higher factor sunscreens offer more protection for the sun. Depending on your skin type, you need to purchase and apply one right for you.
For longer runs, take a travel sized bottle and put it in your pocket or running belt. Stop every 45 minutes and re-apply.
Admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous activity in the world but it must be done.
Don’t let yourself get burnt and risk a deadly skin disease, aged skin and the look of the lobster; a couple of minutes to apply is surely worth it. Wouldn’t you agree?
3. Dress light
A golden rule for running on a hot day is to dress as light as possible. Vests, shorts, thin short sleeve tees, are what you should be aiming for.
Don’t be fooled by the breeze
Don’t be tempted to put a long sleeve top or wear leggings, when there’s a slight breeze in the air which tricks you into thinking it’s a bit chilly. Wearing heavier clothing may initially seem like a good idea but five minutes in, you’ll regret it.
The hot weather makes you: sweat more, gasp for breath, put in more work to climb hills and slopes, feel extremely warm.
Whilst you can wrap a jacket around your waist, you can’t just take off your long-sleeved top or leggings to cool down. Don’t be in the position of getting halfway through your run thinking “I should have dressed lighter”. It’s not fun!
Dressing as light as possible is a golden rule for running in hot weather.
4. Take it easy
Unless you’re training for the Olympics or the commonwealth games, there’s no reason to go 110 mph in hot weather.
You could get away with it during the winter because your body is trying to heat itself up. However, putting your body through its paces in hot weather can be a fast track ticket to health problems. Sun stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope.
Drop the intensity; enjoy the sunny run
Like the popular Eagles song suggests, take it easy. Slow down, drop the intensity and you’ll be less likely to risk your health and will probably enjoy the run even more.
Running on a hot day can be particularly beautiful with a boost in wild-life, picturesque landscapes, people making the most of the weather and enjoying themselves. Remember, you’re not in the 5K men’s final at the Olympic games.
Take it easy, take it down a notch, enjoy the run in the sun.
Not only are sunglasses incredibly stylish, their main function is to provide vital eye protection.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays can be damage your eyesight and cause health problems like cataracts, Macular degeneration and pterygia.
Look cool and protect your eyes
It’s a no brainer. Two for the price of one. Buy some running glasses to keep your eyes safe, with the added benefit of looking style.
Where can I get good running sun glasses?
Oakley, Torege, and Duco, all offer affordable running glasses for bright sunny runs. A quality pair will feature anti-fogging lenses, lightweight design, durability (in case of dropping), and should be adjustable.
6. Run early on
On hot days, the sun and temperature typically peak around 3:00PM. Try to avoid peak times at all costs; it will make all the difference between an enjoyable summer run or it is feeling like a trial of death.
Be like the Spanish
In Spain, outside workers take a break – the Spanish ‘siesta’ – during mid-day, usually 2-5PM, to avoid the hottest hours of the day. To adapt they start working early, and work later after their ‘siesta’. Don’t go for a run during the hottest times of the day, be like the Spanish and plan your running in accordance with the days temperature. Run either in the morning (recommended) or in the late evening
Get up and out for your run early on to avoid the hottest time of the day.
7. Choose routes with shade
If your running routes are particularly open and exposed, opt for a shadier route instead. Running through an open field or street in the heat, means more exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays and a more difficult run due to the higher temperature.
Try running in nature
Mix up your routes; add shady riversides, woodland, the country side and trails to your route. More than often, trees provide natural shade in these environments which make the run cooler and more manageable, reduce UV ray intensity and provide a great excuse to get into nature.
Nature runs are often peaceful and calm, giving you tranquillity to appreciate wildlife and have some time to yourself.
8. Drink a low-calorie sports drink to replace your electrolytes
Electrolytes, such as chloride, potassium and sodium, allow your body to function properly and are lost through sweating. In hot weather, your body’s working overtime to cool you down and loses lots of electrolytes through sweating, not good for your body, trying to regulate itself properly.
Drink electrolytes in moderation
You may want to drink loads, especially if you’re gasping for breath and sweating buckets but make sure you ‘listen’ to your body. If you’re feeling very thirsty, this indicates a need to replace electrolytes so drink some of the sports drink.
Too many electrolytes can be harmful to the body i.e. confusion, nausea, dizziness and muscle weakness so drink in moderation.