Hot weather can put added stress on the body. The warmer the weather, the more challenging it becomes. Your body has to work harder anyway, and adding exercise to the mix makes it even harder for the body to function properly. To cool itself, the body will send extra blood nearer to the skin. This takes blood away from the muscles, which can, in turn increase the heart rate.
Exercising in the heat is even tougher when all your training has been in cool conditions so you aren't acclimatised to it.
Here are some of our top tips for running in the heat
1. Slap it on! Plenty of suncream is essential. Choose one suitable for sports, the last thing you want is sweaty stingy suncream in your eyes.
2. Stay smooth - use vaseline or body glide to prevent chaffing.
3. Slow down - it's OK to slow down - seriously, sometimes a PB isn't worth it. Just aim for the finish line. If you have to walk, then walk.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - start now if you haven't already, and on the day try to stay hydrated but not overly so.
5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol - in fact avoid anything which will dehydrate you. If you have medications, it worth checking them too as some can make you dehydrated. Electrolytes might help too.
6. How cool is your kit? Consider what you are wearing - is your t-shirt wicked? Maybe a cap or visor would be a good idea, and/or sports glasses? Give it a trial run though and remember the runners commandment - thou shalt not wear new and untested kit at an event. You might want to consider running with a hydration pack - but again try it out first!
7. Water - drink to thirst on the run, but don't just drink it, pour it over you to stay cool.
8. Be aware and know when to stop - be aware of the signs of heat problems, including heat cramps, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms include cramps, headaches, disorientation and nausea.
We are not saying not to run in the heat, but please be aware of possible problems so you can take action before it literally stops you in your tracks.
Here are the main things to look out for:
- Heat cramps: muscle spasms caused by fluid and electrolyte losses. Hydrate, slow down/stop, stretch.
- Dehydration: for most people, up to 4% dehydration is fine, but anything beyond that can cause problems. Start your run hydrated, drink to thirst on your run and re-hydrate well after.
- Heat exhaustion: symptoms include dehydration, nausea, headache and a body temperature up to 104° F. Stop. Seek shade, cool down and get medical attention.
- Heat stroke: extremely serious. Symptoms include a body temperature of 105° F or higher, disorientation, confusion, lack of balance, lack of sweating. Medical attention is required.
Most of all, please enjoy your run, but be aware and stay safe.