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Running in the Heat

The weather over the recent weeks has been incredible. Hot, sunny, bright. Perfect.

But is it quite so perfect for us runners?

I guess that’s a personal perception, but I know for me it can be a bit of a challenge.

I love a good run, and often do so early in the morning to evade the heat. But try running later (as I did last Wednesday with fellow BADRAT founder Bjorn) and it’s a different matter. Hot, elevated heartrate, tight chest, heavy legs, flies….oh the flies, sun cream. All the things I run early to avoid!

For the record, I like to run early (a habit begun in the Summer of 2018 when it was HOT and my 10am runs became a challenge), and am often up and out on the road by 0530. This generally avoids the heat and allows me to enjoy my runs and challenge myself further, and in the winter has the added bonus of helping avoid traffic filled roads splashing freezing water at me!

But for many due to family commitments, work or just not wanting to be up at stupid-o’clock early (or late) isn’t an option. So, what can you do to make it all a little easier?

If you’re going to run during the heat there have to be some golden rules, pointers to ensure you consider before stepping out into the furnace of a British summer’s day (go on, laugh, but the last few years have been quite challenging at times!).

  1. Check the weather. All the easier on phone apps these days. Check when it will be warmest or has the least cloud cover/most intense sun and try to avoid running during this time. Heatstroke and sunburn are too easily acquired, and neither are great news.

  2. Consider running early or late. In a similar vein to the above point, perhaps changing your habit whilst it’s very hot will make the experience more fun, productive and (most importantly) safe. You don’t need to run at 0500 or 2100, but a slight tweak to earlier morning or later evening could make all the difference.

  3. Sun cream. Yes, it’s horrid, feels nasty, turns you into a human fly paper, but it works. Sunburn will make every run for several days afterwards feel uncomfortable, not to mention hugs, showers, clothes….ouch. Wear Sun cream…and a hat!

  4. Hydration. Please take water with you. It doesn’t have to be a clever bladder with litres of water, pipes, bite valves and whatever else. Soft bottles are easily available and can be carried or put in a running belt, and can be as small as 250ml so smaller than you may think. Water* will help, it’ll help you feel energised, keep you cooler and all sorts (*you can consider electrolyte fluids too to help replace the salts lost through sweat). No water, you’ll have to think outside the box…I guess the endless flies must have a moisture content after all….better to take fluids with you! Oh, and hydrate post-run too, sunstroke and dehydration are horrid.

  5. Shade. If your usual routes are across rolling flats without a tree in sight and views to the horizon, now’s the time to consider other options. A nice woodland run, a trot along the shade thrown canal paths, an explore down tree covered country lanes. Shade helps.

  6. Keep an eye on your heartrate, it’ll inform you how your body is coping with the heat. If it starts to elevate too much (and you know best what your normal heartrate is at various paces and effort perceptions etc) then don’t be afraid to back off a bit, or stop to let it reduce. Strava results aren’t the be all and end all, safety and your health are.

Just a few ideas from my experience, something to consider. I’m sure I have missed out all sorts of important and useful advice and ideas, so now is your chance. Share your go to ideas and solutions to running when it’s hot, what works for you, what tips can you share?

Get them sent over to us via our website contact page or our social media and we’ll get them included in an updated version of this blog next week (credited, of course!).

Thanks for reading!

Nick, team BADRAT.

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