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6 Tips For Running Safely In Summer

by Sportitude
13 Nov 2017

In the winter it’s tempting to snuggle up in bed and hibernate to avoid the chill. The summer has its own challenges, with the risk of heat exhaustion a real threat to your health.

But before you trade in your activewear for thongs and your birthday suit, consider the benefits of running in the heat.

Heat acclimatisation may improve your overall performance all year round. Regular hot weather running encourages your body to adapt to the intense conditions.

Overtime it may decrease your heart rate, maximise the efficiency of perspiration by triggering it at a lower core temperature, and increase your plasma volume (the liquid portion of your blood) for effective cooling without compromising the oxygenation of your muscles.

Overall, your speed and efficiency will improve, so when it comes to running in less strenuous conditions you’ll perform like a superhero.

Knowing your threshold for heat and taking precautions to run safely is essential. Check out our 6 tips for sweating it up in summer and loving it.

Plan Ahead

Run smart. Plan your day to avoid running at the hottest periods (10am - 3pm). Running in the morning creates a positive mindset for the rest of the day - keeping you motivated, energised and boosting your mood - all without popping a load of jelly beans in your mouth!

Not a morning person? No worries! Head out after work in the late evening to soak in the beautiful sun set and hit your fitness goals while the weather is cool.  

If you and your smartphone are joined at the hip, let your technical buddy work in your favour. Use reputable weather apps to check temperature and humidity prior to your run.

The SunSmart app by the Cancer Council is available for free, and is an invaluable tool for staying aware of UV levels. It’s also a good idea to take your mobile with you on the go so you can organise a ride if you get stuck out in the heat.

Applying sweat-proof sunscreen (opt for a minimum of SPF30+) and wearing technical summer running apparel is also a must for heat and UV protection. Choose breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics. Light coloured clothing helps reflect the sun’s heat to keep you cooler for longer.

Acclimatise To The Heat

Running in the heat puts greater strain on your body than running in cooler conditions. It’s important to not push your body as hard as you would under optimal temperatures.

Start off with low intensity, shorter sessions at a slower pace than normal to allow your body to adapt to the challenges of the summer heat, and gradually increase the intensity over two weeks.

Take Walking Breaks

Break up your running with intervals of disciplined walking. Walking breaks can reduce physical and mental fatigue, assist in conserving energy, promote improved running form and allow your muscles to recover faster.

Allowing your body this ‘active rest’ period to catch your breath can be difference you need to add extra Ks to your distance and speed to your performance in the long run.

Drink Up!

Sweating is your body’s natural cooling mechanism, so it’s no wonder why we sweat more in summer heat and while exerting ourselves through physical activity. Fluids are lost in perspiration, and it is essential to replenish both water and electrolytes to ward off dehydration.

Electrolyte drinks have added benefits to good ol’fashioned H20 in maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance.

What are electrolytes? They are electrically-charged minerals that are responsible for healthy bodily functions including regulating and maintaining your body fluid at optimal levels and stimulating muscle contractions. Sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphate are among the most critical for your health and nutrition.

Hydrate on the go! The sportswear industry is getting savvy in regard to user-friendly and ergonomic water bottles for your run.

Carrying a water bottle serves as a reminder to drink up as you hit up the kilometres. Many are designed to fit in the natural contours of your hand for comfort and convenience. A water bottle with a nozzle helps to prevent spillage and allows you to replenish your fluids easily on the move.

Aim to hydrate pre-, during and post-run for better physical health and performance.

Everyone sweats differently. Depending on your fitness levels, rate of perspiration, length and intensity of your run, and the external conditions you make need to drink more.

Listen To Your Body

Got clear urine? High-five! You’re hydrated!

Being aware of your body is critical in hot and humid conditions and ignoring the warning signs of heat exhaustion is a definite no no. Listen to your body - whether you love to run for fun, fitness or are training for your next marathon.

If you experience physical symptoms of dehydration including nausea, dizziness, fatigue, headaches and extreme cramps or mental symptoms such as confusion and agitation, it’s time to find a shady spot, chill out and take sips of water.

Your urine can also tell you a lot about your hydration levels. Dark, cloudy or trickling urine are early warning signs of dehydration. The dark yellow colour indicates your urine is over-concentrated with the nasties your body is trying to expel. The solution is simple - drink more H20 in sips and resist the temptation to gulp down large quantities of water at once - it can make you ill.

Elevating your legs also assists in the natural cooling process of your body, so take a break under cover and put your feet up.

Switch The Road For The Beach, Park, Trail or Treadmill

On a hot, sunny day, you can literally feel heat radiating from the pavement. Black surfaces such as tarmac roads absorb the warmth of the sun, making road running a real battle in summer.

Best avoid sizzling like a sausage, yeah? Road warriors, shake up your routine by heading for the beach or trail.

A salty, sea breeze not only does wonders for your mood but can assist in keeping your body cool. Take a dip in the waves post-run - it’s the perfect treat to relax and recover.

Shady trails or parks lined with trees are also a great option for increased sun protection, and natural terrain provides a new set of challenges to spice up your run.

When the mercury rises, exercising outdoors can be a health risk. To avoid heat-related illness but still enjoy your workout, it’s time to hit the treadmill. Lucky for us, the gym is air-conditioned!

Happy running!