Running can be challenging at the best of times, and when the temperature starts to warm up outside, it can get even harder. It's important to be careful when running in the heat, especially if you are not used to it. Heat can be very dangerous and causes a multitude of issues including heat stroke and severe dehydration which can lead to very serious health problems.
This article is not meant to scare you but to give you some tips on how you can carry on running safely in the heat.
1. Timing is everything
If it has warmed up in the area where you are running, then running very early in the morning or at the end of the day would be wise, rather than right in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest. If you really only have time to run at the height of day in the heat, then consider going to the gym, if you are a member and enjoy the air conditioning.
2. Drink Drink Drink
Make sure you drink plenty of water beforehand so you are hydrated, but not so much as to feel bloated. In addition, don’t forget to take a drink with you on your run and drink water at regular intervals, or plan a route where you know there are plenty of water stops. It is important to drink water anyway, but in the heat it's vital.
Sports drinks that contain electrolytes are a great option in addition to water as part of training in the heat as they replace the electrolytes that you lose when sweating. They can also increase your water absorption.
3. Stop if you feel unwell
Be aware of the signs of dehydration and heat stroke, and if you feel unwell, stop. Do not try to push through as you could end up becoming very ill. Often with dehydration, you can actually feel cold and shivery even though it is very hot outside. If you do feel unwell, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
4. Carry your phone
If you are running somewhere remote, consider taking your mobile phone with you and a few dollars. So, if you do have trouble, you can call someone to help you or get something to eat or drink and rest for a while.
5. Be smart with your running route
If your usual running route does not have much shade and if you are running on a hot day, change the route so that you potentially have more shade, i.e. a route under trees. This will shield you from the sun and the heat. Alternatively, as with tip number one, you could always go to your local gym if you have membership.
6. Consider your clothing
Dress appropriately for your run outside. Don't wear too many articles of clothing and wear light weight clothes to ensure you are cool enough. Also, wear a cap/visor and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun, and don't forget the all important sunscreen.
7. Don’t overexert yourself
A very hot day is not the day to try and push yourself to the max. Take it easy when it is hot, unless you are a seasoned runner. You have no idea how your body will react to the temperature. Be prepared to run slower than you would normally.
Running in the heat can be a challenge, but the key is just to be sensible and not to go crazy. Give your body some time to adjust to the heat and play it by ear, but always stop if feeling unwell. Consult your doctor if trying something new for the first time.
UK born and based currently in Australia, Zoe has a passion for running as evident by her participation in excess of 30 running events, including five marathons, over the past 14 years. Wanting to share her enthusiasm for running, five years ago Zoe started a blog for the everyday runner “The Girl That Runs“. This blog has quickly built up a strong following amongst runners of all ages and experience levels looking for advice with easily relatable content.
Main Photo Credit; Fourth Photo Credit & Seventh Photo Credit: Maridav/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Daxiao Productions/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Aleksandr Markin/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: ouh_desire/shutterstock.com; Sixth Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com