Running in the heat

The prospect of a hot race day is something that worries a lot of us runners.

Potentially two of the hardest runs I’ve ever completed were difficult because I simply wasn’t ready for the heat and hadn’t adapted to it – Great Newham Run where there was a freak heatwave and running in high humidity whilst in Mombasa, Kenya.

Being able to handle the heat and having effective strategies in place is something which I am still working on. Here are the things I’ve learned to do differently so far:

Training

Simply said, you need to train in the heat to be acclimatise to it and perform well on race day. You need to find the middle point between training hard in the warmth and avoiding the heat completely. Consider heat a challenge that you can conquer and feel proud of training that you complete in the heat!

Run easy & shorter sessions

Light training in the heat can be enough to stimulate adaptations to the warmth. There is no need to perform all your key interval sessions or tons of race pace training in the heat.

Adjust pacing appropriately

Running in heat is taxing! Naturally, your pacing will be slower running in warmer than usual temperatures – it can have up to 20% impact on your pace.

Dress accordingly

As with running in the cold, or running on different surfaces, dress appropriately! Remember the sun cream, sunglasses, cap, lighter socks etc. Don’t forget to lube your body up to prevent chaffing.

Hydrate!

Even for shorter runs, take some water out with you. You could semi-freeze water so that when you need it, it will be cooler. For longer runs, think about electrolytes! Hydrate every 15-20 minutes. Think about places you can stop to top up/ purchase water. Plan your route so that you run past water fountains/ shops. Don’t over hydrate though, it can dangerously lower body salt levels.

It’s fine to take walking breaks

The warmth and sun will draw extra energy from you. If you need to take a recovery break, take it. Re-energise and go again! It’s better to take a break than to feel fried!

Be an earlier riser or night owl!

The sun will be less intense early morning or later in the day/ at night. Adjust your plans accordingly.

Enjoy running with a friend

When it is extremely warm, it is safer to run with a friend. Take the opportunity to socialise and look out for each other!

Be patient

Chances are your key race will most likely be in Spring/ Autumn. Be patient, tune in to how your body is feeling and know that temperatures will start cooling down again. Ride the storm and think about the other side.

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