Looking after your health during a hot run could not only save your life but also make your run a lot more enjoyable. Remember the effects of heat can vary with humidity, wind and terrain. Remember if you like running with your dog, summer is often a good time to leave your best friend at home as they really struggle with the heat.
Staying hydrated – drink before, during and after your runs. Hydration is a continuum and therefore if you get out on the trail dehydrated, things will only get worse. Make sure you drink to thirst and you have a plan for hydrating on route. When you get back home, you may find you catching up on water intake for a couple of days. Cold drinks quench thirst more and also help reduce your core temperature. If you are out for a short run drop some ice cubes into your soft flask.
Go slow – running faster increases your heart rate and makes you perspire more, which is similar to how your body deals with the heat. When it’s hot run a bit slower, and put your body under less stress.
Salt intake – sweating leaves you needing more salts. This will depend on the intensity of your exercise, but think about how you are going to replenish it during and after your run. Salt is essential for muscles contracting and relaxing as well as brain function. If you are cramping a lot, chances are you are salt deficient. Consider using an electrolyte drink or salt tablets.
Acclimatising – it takes about 5 days before your body starts to become more efficient at coping with warmer weather. Spend even longer and physiological adaptations will start, so don’t panic at the beginning of summer, you will adjust if you give yourself time.
Sunscreen – blocking the harmful UVs is really important to looking after your skin. It’s very easy when you are out running in a breeze or under cloud cover to think that you don’t need sunscreen but it’s just as important.
Hay fever – looking at the forecast will not only tell you whether it will rain or be sunny, but will also give you the pollen index, invaluable if you suffer from summer allergens. Time your run after rain, or in the morning when generally the count is lower.
Ibuprofen (NSAIDs) – one of the reasons we recommend avoiding NSAIDs like ibuprofen ahead of a run in the heat is that they can restrict blood flow to the kidneys. Kidneys are essential to your health and even more important during hot days when they work hard to keep your hydration levels healthy.
Identifying heat stroke – feeling dizzy, confused, grumpy, tired, headachy, nauseous, breathing rapidly? These are all potential symptoms of heat stroke which can be really dangerous if you don’t get cool, now!