Running in hot weather

I’d never particularly thought much about running in hot weather, being a resident of the U.K. it’s not something that we really have to contend with. On those rare occasions when it is a touch warm I’d either go out for a COD run or wait until it’s cooled down sufficiently in the evening and then go. Yes I’ve done a couple of events that I suffered in due to the heat, IOW half sticks in the memory as nearly finishing me off a few years back, but looking back now with a bit more experience under my belt, I never really had a true appreciation of just how hard it is to run in hot weather. My understanding changed having spent the past two weeks in Florida and going out running three or four times a week.

Even at 5:30am to 6:00 am, about an hour before sunrise, the temperature is up in the high 20’s and humidity is almost always in excess of 90%. This really saps energy levels and makes everything feel that much harder. Exiting a nice air conditioned building and wading into a hot, sticky wall of air is almost akin to walking into a sauna, especially when the humidity is so high. I can’t imagine what it would be like to run any real distance out here with the sun up and beating down on my pale British skin!

Training out here during these two weeks has made me appreciate the extreme conditions that our Olympic athletes put themselves through. You see the events being broadcast on TV, events like the triathlon at the recent Rio Olympics that the Brownlee brothers smashed, being held in searing heat and scorching conditions. It’s very easy to sit and watch it from the comfort of our own homes without any true appreciation of just how hard it really is. For me, at least, this trip has been a real eye opener even if it does seem a bit bloody obvious!

So I’ve done a bit of research and collated the following top ten tips for light training in hot weather;

  1. Run at the coolest time of day, which is usually just before sunrise (COD run).
  2. Avoid running during the middle of the day, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun!
  3. Plan shady routes and/or routes with water fountains if possible.
  4. Wear loose fitting, light-colored, tech clothing that wicks away sweat and dries quickly.
  5. Carry and consume adequate amounts of fluids to stay hydrated (salt is important!).
  6. Avoid getting sunburned because burnt skin loses its’ ability to sweat, making cooling less efficient.
  7. Slow your run pace down to adjust for heat and humidity.
  8. Run by feel rather than pace. If a run feels hard, it is hard regardless of actual pace.
  9. Keep a sensible head and remember the reason you’re out running.
  10. Take some emergency money and ID with you.

That’s about it really for light training in hot conditions, though there is probably reams of information on the subject written by people far more knowledgable than me. I don’t even want to think about what you’d need to do to run in an event like MDS or Badwater, that’s a whole different ball game! Google is your friend if you want to research it in further depth. That’s some next level stuff right there!

Enjoy your running and keep it safe.

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