Running in the Heat
The heat has hit the UK in a big way this summer, and it doesn't look like its going anywhere soon. If you're currently training for one of our Autumn marathons, read on to find out our top tips for tackling your summer runs.
1. Get up early
Getting out of bed is tough, but running in the heat is tougher.
I personally get up at 5 or 6am to get my runs in before I go to work. Even in the height of the recent heatwave with midday temperatures of 30 degrees, it was only 15/16 degrees first thing in the morning which is a much more manageable temperature. It's also really nice getting it out of the way so you can relax in the evening!
If you do opt for an early morning run, make sure that you're not compromising on sleep. Aim for a full 8 hours, and at the very least ensure that you're not getting any less sleep than you would usually. In the middle of the summer this is likely to mean heading to bed when it's still light outside sometimes, so invest in an eye mask and earplugs if you find yourself struggling to nod off. It's also important to eat well the night before an early morning run, particularly if it's a long run.
2. Take it slow
Sometimes it's not possible to time your runs to avoid the heat, and that's OK. Your body is smarter than you might think, and is able to adjust to different conditions given time. If you consistently run in the heat, it will take your body a few weeks to acclimatise. You will start to sweat more, your heart rate will decrease and your blood flow will improve.
It's important to take things slowly as your body adjusts. So don't try any intense speed or hill sessions in the heat straight away, and don't expect a PB.
3. Plan your route carefully
Make sure you plan ahead to make your run as comfortable as it can be.
Opt for routes with as much shade as possible - if you live near any wooded areas, they are ideal for sweaty summer runs. Rivers, beaches, and anywhere breezy also work well.
If you really want to escape the heat, you can head to the gym and replace some of your outdoor workouts with treadmill sessions. Try not to rely on the treadmill too much though - running outdoors has a very different impact on your body and it's important that you prepare yourself for the reality of marathon day.
When it comes to marathon training, hydration is always important. In the heat, it is crucial.
Your body will respond to the heat by sweating more to cool your skin. It sounds obvious, but the more you sweat, the more water you are losing and the more you need to drink. The key is to hydrate early and often. Don't just have a quick drink of water immediately before you head out for your run - plan in advance, and begin upping your fluid intake several hours before you set off. If you're running first thing in the morning, drink lots of water before you go to bed and again in the morning.
Sports drinks are also a really good idea. They contain electrolytes which hydrate you faster, and the sugar in them acts as a really great boost when your energy levels are dipping.
5. Wear as little as possible
Wear as little as you can get away with to keep yourself as cool as possible. That means shorts and vests - or even go topless or in a sports bra on a really hot day.
Opt for loose-fitting fabrics in quick dry materials. Light colours are best in the sun, and if you suffer from thigh chafing, go for cycling style shorts instead of short shorts.