As we move into the summer, and the weather gets warmer*, running can get difficult. Compared to the winter, when the dark sky, rain and cold can make going out for a run seem like a miserable proposition, running in the summer should be easy, right? Not necessarily.
The bright sun and hot temperatures of summer bring their own set of challenges; especially the risks of dehydration or heatstroke.
With this in mind, we asked the amazing community of Lonely Goatsfor their tips on how to run in the heat.
Perhaps you’re an experienced runner who always struggles to run in the heat? Or maybe you started running in the winter and are getting concerned about how to adapt now that the temperature is getting warmer? If so, read on.
It might seem obvious, but it is worth repeating: you don’t need to wear lots of clothes when running in the summer. It doesn’t matter if you feel a little chilly in the first mile, because you will almost certainly have warmed up by the second.
We recognise that not every runner likes wearing skimpy shorts, so wear what you feel comfortable in. Loose clothing, in lightweight breathable materials, in lighter colours are best for running on hot days.
Many Lonely Goats recommended wearing a hat. Some runners don’t like wearing hats as they feel covering their head makes them hotter. It is completely down to personal preference whether you choose to wear a hat or not, but reasons for doing so include protecting bald heads from the sun and keeping the sun out of your eyes. Experiment to see what works best for you.
Another great reason for wearing a hat is that you can soak it in water, or pack it with ice to help cool your head down. On extremely hot days, you may want to soak your hat, running top or a bandana and leave it in the fridge or freezer overnight to pre-cool it.
Water activated cooling towels, or ice packs can be helpful if you have a means of carrying them, or someone to hand them to you.
Sunglasses are recommended. If you’re screwing your eyes up to keep the sun out, you may be carrying that tension through your neck and shoulder muscles, which may have a detrimental effect on your running style. Relaxed eyes means a relaxed running style.
You might find that chafing is worse if you’re sweating more. If this is the case, consider using a running lubricant to keep things comfortable.
Yes, it is possible to overhydrate yourself and develop hyponatremiaif you drink too much water, but it is more likely than not that you will finish a run dehydrated on a hot day. Not only does this have a negative effect on running performance, but it can also cause serious health problems. Drink to thirst and you should be OK.
A sports drink, or electrolyte replacement drink, should help replace the salts and minerals that your body loses through sweat. Make it up the day before your run and keep it in a fridge or freezer.
Even if you find you don’t need to run with a bottle in winter, you may find you need one in the summer. If you don’t like carrying bottles, then either find somewhere you can leave them, have someone else carry them for you, run past water fountains, or invest in a hydration pack. This is a backpack with a flexible bladder inside it that you can fill with water or a sports drink that you drink through a hose. It will keep your hands free, and if you put the drink in the fridge or freezer the night before, can keep your back cool too. Just bear in mind, that you may find you get a sweatier back from having it covered, so try and experiment to see what works best for you.
Don’t just think about hydration when you’re running. Make sure you are well hydrated throughout the day. Your wee should be clear or pale straw-coloured. If it is dark, then you’re either dehydrated or something more serious is wrong with you.
Tipping water over yourself – especially on your head, back of the neck, arms, wrists and legs – can help keep you cool through evaporation.
Some running events will have on-course showers that you can run through. You may not have this luxury when out for a run on your own, but you can still make the most of drinking fountains or taps that you run past.
Running alongside a river or the coast is often cooler than running inland, or in the city. Plus, if you get really hot, you can always strip off and go for a quick swim to cool down.
Protect yourself from the sun
Wear sunscreen. Always. Find a good one that isn’t going to slide off you when you sweat.
If possible, run early in the morning, or late in the evening, when the sun isn’t as strong and the temperature isn’t as high. This might mean changing your running routine around a little, but you may find it is worth it.
Look for the shade when running and stick to the shadows wherever possible. Even if only part of you is in the shade, that is still better than nothing. Running through the woods can be lovely in the summer.
Carry some form of identification on you, plus an emergency contact number – just in case the worse should happen and you collapse and require medical assistance. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
Carry a couple of quid on you. You never know when you might need to make a phone call, get a bus, buy a bottle of water, or treat yourself to an ice-cream during a run.
Readjust your expectations
Running in the heat is hard. No matter how much you try and mitigate against this, there is a good chance that you’ll be slower on a hot day than a cool day. With this in mind, be prepared to run slower, cut the distance short, or skip a run entirely.
Don’t worry about pace. Just smile, and enjoy yourself.
A number of our Goats suggested finding a nice bar, ordering a cocktail, and chilling out rather than going for a run.
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We couldn't not get out in this weather, could we?! ??☀️ . Out of the car from the school run and straight into the buggy to appreciate the blue sky and sunshine vibes ?? . I may have also been putting off dealing with the massive wee Ralph ? did in Scarlett's room this morning ? right up the curtain, on the carpet and also managing to sprinkle her American girl dolls that were tucked up in their bunkbed under the windowsill… one of those mornings ?? made infinitely better for some flying feet time with my Lady. V ?♀️?♀️ . Coffee first… then a bucket full of disinfectant ??? . #morningrun #strollerrun #womensrunning #roadtorecovery #trailrunner #runhappy #lonelygoatrunningclub #riseandrun #runrunrun #happyrunner #powerthighs #mentalhealthwarrior #injuredrunner #challenge #letsgo #runeveryday #vlm2019 #streakingwiththecoolkids #garminrunner #runnersworld #thisgirlruns #halfmarathontraining #runnershigh #runchat #runtoinspire #runnersofinstagram #brooksrunninguk #runmummyrun #keepshowingup
Thanks to the following Lonely Goats for their advice:
Katie Grant, McAndrew McLintock, Rob Thewlis, Paulina Wookey, Stewart Downing, Jennie Miller, Amy Doherty, Tara MacG, Sara Leggott, Natasha Langford, Sam Hewitt, Ellie Taylor, Stephen Hirschfeld, Dan Rodgers, Matt Pitcher, Louise Coulthard, Sharon Sweet, Paul Johnson, Lin Meyrick, Carole Parker, Rebecca Rees-Hughes, Caroline Marriott, Robin Baillie, Anne-Marie Rose, Matt Wood, Graham Kirk, Will Weir, Huw Owen, Graham McKenna, and Kim Roberts.
This is the second in our series of ‘Tips from the Lonely Goat Herd’. To see our first article, on the London Marathon, click here. If there is a particular topic that you would like to see covered, please let us know.