Keeping yourself hydrated and wearing moisture-wicking clothing are key
The prospect of taking part in a race on a hot summer's day can be very daunting, especially for running novices.
However, there are various steps that you can take to ensure that you take adequate care of your wellbeing.
Keeping yourself hydrated is essential, as is making sure that you’re wearing appropriate clothing that will keep your body cool under the unrelenting gaze of the sun.
Surely it'd be easier to just stick to running during winter and steer clear from any possibility of experiencing heatstroke, you might ask?
With temperatures set to rise as the summer progresses, that attitude could see a multitude of runners miss out on months of running in the glorious sun.
Rather than give into the temptation to stick to indoor workouts during the hotter months, it’s important to be prepared if you’re planning on lacing up and braving the great outdoors.
Today marks Global Running Day, an initiative that has seen thousands of people from 168 countries around the world pledge to run as part of a global movement.
Here are five top tips for running in the summer, according to the experts:
1. Acclimatise to the heat
If you head out for a run in the sun having not given your body time to get used to the temperature, then you’re going to be in for quite a shock.
Dr Andrew Murray, athlete and ambassador for footwear company Merrell, recommends spending some time in the heat a few days prior to a run or a race so that your body can adapt to the harsher conditions.
It may even be worth having a hot bath to give your body as much opportunity as possible to acclimatise to the heat.
2. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is essential on a daily basis. However, it’s even more vital when exerting yourself in the heat, which is why drinking lots of water in the days preceding a summer run is definitely recommended.
Nonetheless, doing so on the morning of a long-distance race could prove quite disruptive, Richard Edmonds, co-founder of high performance underwear brand Runderwear, explains.
“Drinking too much the morning before a race, combined with adrenaline, will just mean hours on the loo!” he tells The Independent.
Dr Murray suggests drinking fluids that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates in order to boost your energy levels.
Products such as the Maurten 160 Drink Mix and the GU Roctane Energy Gel contain a blend of carbohydrates and electrolytes ideal for athletes.
3. Dress appropriately
As a runner, there’s nothing worse than going for a run in the boiling heat, only to feel stifled by clothing that’s too thick or heavy.
Opting for activewear that’s made with the right type of material will make a huge difference to the quality of your run.
“When running in hot weather, you should ensure that the layers of clothing closest to the skin are made using a moisture-wicking fabric, to deliver sweat away from your body, minimising chafing,” Edmonds says.
For example, Runderwear produces clothing with moisture-wicking features made from unique 92 per cent Polyamide material.
Furthermore, while you may be inclined to wear clothing that’s loose-fitting on a hot summer’s day, doing so could be your downfall.
“Make sure you choose underwear and socks with an ergonomic fit, that’s just right,” Edmonds suggests.
“Loose-fitting garments, combined with moisture from sweating, will increase the chances of rubbing and a painful post-run shower.”
If you want to avoid the annoyance of chafing, then fitted, moisture-wicking sportswear is the way to go.
4. Reassess your expectations
Many people who run regularly strive to constantly achieve personal bests, testing the extent to which they can push their bodies to the absolute limit.
However, when running in the heat, taking care of your health is far more important than knocking a few minutes off of your final time.
Before the London Marathon took place on 22 April 2018, all participants received an official warning stating that they should not expect to nor attempt to complete their fastest race due to the blistering conditions.
The 2018 London Marathon ended up being the hottest on record since the race first began in 1981, with temperatures reaching soaring highs.
For those of you planning on taking part in 10ks, half marathons, or even marathons this summer, take note.
“If the conditions are hot, then you are likely to be a little slower,” Dr Murray says.
“If it’s super hot, don’t think about personal bests, but embrace the challenge of completing a marathon on a hot day.”
Dr Murray advises trying to run in the shade as much as possible if there is any.
5. Rest and recover
Once you’ve completed a run in the heat, then the next step is to ensure that you recover properly.
“Make sure you allow your body sufficient time to rest before doing any more exercise, at least one day, to prevent overtraining syndrome,” says the clinical nutrition experts at BioCare.
Moreover, there are a number of nutrients you could include in your diet that can help aid recovery.
Magnesium helps reduce muscle cramps, while zinc has also been shown to speed up muscle repair and strength.
Magnesium can be found in foods such as avocados, nuts and salmon, while zinc can be found in several different types of seeds (including pumpkin, sesame and watermelon), garlic and chickpeas.