Running in the Hot Sun of Summer
I didn’t run London (marathon) this year, but I was there along Embankment giving out sweaty power hugs to friends and strangers to encourage them in the final mile.
This year the weather has been odd. A cold, wet and windy winter that went on and on and on. Just when you thought it was over, the sun coming out to play and wind abating, 24 hours later we were dusted once again in snow. On and on and on and on well into April.
A few days before my spring marathon in Manchester there was snow and ice underfoot. But we were lucky. Manchester as a city is well known for rain. But the early April morning was dry, wind free and perfect running conditions.
That respite was followed by another weekend dusting of snow. And then came the dire warnings that London would be hit with a heat wave.
On the back of impending tube strike chaos and our winter of mal weather, a heat wave was hardly believable. But believe it we had to!
As manager of the London Marathon Training & Support Facebook group that week, alongside maranoia calming I handed out warm weather running advice about what to wear, when, how and why to drink and the importance of listening to your body and slowing down. But none of us could really anticipate the sudden rise in temperature that weekend and the effect of running on a hot day without having first acclimatised. Many of my LMT&S runners were new to the sport, so had only ever done long runs on super cold days and some through snow drifts!
In the end VLM 2018 was the hottest London Marathon to date. Aid stations ran out of water and a significant number of my crew ran the race a good 1 hour slower than expected.
Fact. Running on a warm day is harder, but it’s not impossible to train when it’s warm.
We’re steaming towards summer right now, so check out my top tips for running when it’s warm.
What to wear
When it’s hot it’s even more important to wear lightweight breathable clothing that’ll wick sweat away from your body. Wear running shorts, skorts or capris rather than full length leggings. Also light colours are best, as dark adsorb heat.
Protect yourself from the sun
You need to wear sunscreen, especially if you’re out running for any length of time. Choose a sports formula sunscreen that allows your skin to breath and sweat, rather than oil based brands. They create a layer on your skin, it’ll be harder for you to sweat and lose heat from your body and you could over heat.
Wear sunshades that wrap around your head, rather than fashion brands that might fall off.
Also consider wearing a lightweight cap or visor to keep the sun off your face. I wouldn’t wear a standard baseball cap as they tend to ‘keep your head warm’, and not allow heat to escape from your head, so you could overheat more wearing a hat.
Run early or run inside
“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. But running in the heat of the day isn’t great and if you can you should try and get your run in early before the heat gets up or later in the evening.
If it’s really impossible to change when you run consider training indoors. Being outside in the sunshine is lovely (or maybe it’s just me who loves it … I really am a warm weather lover), but somedays it’s just not safe. So take yourself to an air conditioned gym and run on a treadmill instead.
Water, water, water … gimme water!
Usually I wouldn’t take water with me unless I was running for more than 60 – 90 minutes. But if it’s a hot day you really do need to reconsider.
Your body loses heat through sweating, and sweating you lose fluid and salts from your body.
So on hot days always take water with you, even if you’re going for a short run. Make sure you’re well hydrated beforehand and rehydrate after.
If you’re running for longer you also need to consider sports drinks or gels to replenish the salts that you will have lost through sweating. If you’re out on a very long run, you’re sweating buckets and drinking lots of water to compensate you can ‘over dilute’ your body’s salt concentration, which can be dangerous. Sports drinks and gels contain electrolytes (salts), so are a great option to take to replenish lost salts (and to fuel with carbs) on long hot runs.
With these tips you can stay safe and enjoy summer running!
Helen, The Cheesecake Runner
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