Britain is basking in hot temperatures this week, but what does this mean for our newfound love of running we picked up during this past year at home?
It can be all too easy to wait for the perfect crisp day to set off on your run, but realistically, it can be baking heat in the morning and raining by the afternoon, so it's best to just get on with your runs, whatever the weather may bring.
Running in the heat can be tricky - dehydration, unventilated clothing and the inevitable lure of drinking cocktails in the garden are all things that can easily put you off running in the heat, but going for a lunchtime or afternoon run in nature on a beautiful sunny day is one lockdown habit we're keen to keep.
Make the heat your friend
Don’t underestimate the power of a positive mental attitude when training and/or racing in the heat. The body will follow what the mind believes. Decide mentally that you perform better in heat and even favour running in the heat. Keep telling yourself this ahead of a run and you will perform better. If you get yourself into a negative headspace by making your internal monologue about how the heat will negatively affect your run, you’re not giving yourself the chance to perform at the best of your ability.
If you made running a permanent fixture in your life during the last lockdown, chances are you've not done too much running in the blistering heat before, and if you're planning on taking part in any upcoming races (finger's crossed they go ahead), your body will need time to acclimatise to warmer temperatures in training. Where possible, make sure you train in the heat because this will help you to run more efficiently and prepare your mind and body for what to expect when the time comes.
Don’t wait for cooler days to train if you think there is a chance you will be racing or taking part in an event when the weather is hot.
Pick the right routes
If the forecast is for blue sky and sun plan a route that will not expose you to the elements all day. Chose a route that has more shade along the way, possibly through a park with tall trees or through a city centre where buildings will cast long shadows for you to run in.
Arguably the most important thing to remember when running in hot weather is to hydrate. When running in the heat your body will want to lower your core body temperature by sweating more. This can cause you to become dehydrated quicker than when you are running in other conditions. If you become dehydrated it can take time to gain that back so you should make sure you are hydrated at least two days in the lead up to the event by drinking enough water throughout the days.
I would also recommend adding an electrolyte tablet to you water or drinking a sports drink to replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat. This will increase your water absorption rate allowing you to hydrate better.
Choose the right outfit
All too often runs will come to an early finish because inappropriate kit is keeping you too cold or too hot. Always check the weather in advance of a run and plan your outfit accordingly. In hot temperatures, opt for more loose-fitting clothing with a moisture-wicking feature. Pick lighter colours to reflect the sunlight and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes if the sun is strong.
Change your original plan
If you’re not used to running in the heat, then start off at a steady pace and see how your body reacts to running in hotter temperatures. Listen to your body and work off effort rather than being fixated on running times, pace and trying to set PB’s.
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