Running in the winter or autumn is bad enough for most of us, but when it comes to summertime that daily run gets that little bit more daunting. Spending the day out on a deckchair might sound like the definition of paradise, but slipping on a pair of running shoes and sweltering in the heat waves certainly isn’t.
As well as being unpleasant (but even more rewarding, may we add), it can very dangerous. The soaring heat can make the body’s temperature even higher than normal and this can put your health, or sometimes life, in danger.
It’s for this reason that training sensibly in the sun is absolutely essential. By following the tips that we have put together below, you can still make the most of your sunshine runs but in a much safer way.
Make sure it’s the right time
At some points in the year it’s possible to head out at any period during the day, and your run will not be affected. When it comes to summertime, you’ve got to tailor your exercise regime around the cooler periods though.
Any time around midday is a definite no-no, with this being classed as the hottest part of the day. Instead, reserve your runs for early mornings or late evenings, as it’s here when the temperature drops and you can run with that pleasant breeze in the background.
Plan your route
Something else that is likely to change because of the conditions is the route. Again, the world is your oyster during the cooler parts of the year, but as soon as the temperature rises it’s time to consider a path with more trees, or something else that will provide you with a lot more shade.
It’s all about doing everything you can to minimise your body’s contact with the direct sunlight, which will at least keep your temperature as stable as possible while you’re slogging away in the heat.
Of course, it’s going to be impossible to completely avoid contact with the sunlight, and this is where sun cream comes into play. One of the biggest misconceptions about summer running is that because you’re not planked on a deckchair, the risks of becoming sunburnt are eradicated.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this and even if you are on the move, the sun will still catch you. Similarly, don’t be fooled by the breezes that usually accompany summer days – they won’t prevent you from getting the dreaded burn.
Dress to impress
It goes without saying that dressing appropriately for the conditions is something that you’ll always have to keep in mind. Again, the summer is that little bit more important, simply because you must be looking to do everything you can to reduce your body temperature. Don’t attempt to get creative and overdress in a bid to burn extra calories – in short, this is a dangerous practice. Instead, shorts, t-shirts, vests and sometimes a cap to guard against the sun are the types of garments you should be edging towards. Also look to wear lighter shades in a bid to reflect the sun, rather than absorb it.
For more inspiration, take a look at the running clothes listed on our website.
It might sound like an obvious tip, but keeping hydrated is probably one of the most important pieces of advice when it comes to summer running. While a lot of runners will take some sort of liquid on their run, they should also be looking to consume water around two hours before they head out. This will allow the water to enter your system in good time for your run, and ultimately lower the risk of becoming dehydrated.
It goes without saying that the longer your run, the more fluids you need to take on board. However, if you plan on running for over an hour, you should also take other precautions. Water is perfectly adequate up to this point, but beyond then and your body will start to see its sodium and potassium stores deplete. Both of these electrolytes are crucial whilst exercising, with the former helping the body absorb liquids while potassium can prevent those dreaded muscle cramps. If you continue to consume water during your run, the lack of sodium will make it more difficult for the body to absorb and cause a problem which is medically known as hypernatremia. As such, the water will just sit in your stomach and not benefit you whatsoever.
All of the above again relates to planning your runs accordingly. If you know it’s going to be a long one, make sure you pack that sports drink which will replenish your electrolytes and allow your body to stay hydrated.
Know your limits
Another factor that relates to route planning is knowing exactly how much your body can withstand. On a hot day, you will almost certainly not be able to cover the same amount of distance as you would on your standard, cool outing. This means that you must reassess your goals and understand your body’s limits. In fact, some sources have suggested that you should run at up to 75% less intensity than you’re used to, while the sun is shining.
Understand, and act, on the warning signs
The previous tip leads perfectly onto our next one; understanding the warning signs. As we’ve highlighted throughout this post, running in the sun can prompt a whole host of health concerns ranging from heat exhaustion, right the way to heatstroke. Both problems carry very similar symptoms and if you do start to experience fatigue, headaches, nausea or any sort of disorientation it’s time to put a halt to your exercise as a matter of urgency.
For a lot of these health concerns, treatment will simply revolve around lowering your body’s temperature and consuming as many liquids as possible. In the case of a heat stroke the course of action is a little more serious though and urgent medical assistance is usually recommended in a bid to obtain IV-fluids. This is an example of summer running at its worse; but if you follow the above tips you should hopefully be able to enjoy your run in the sun without any hiccups.