Summer is here and with this prolonged spell of hot weather we need to make adjustments for running in the heat, such as running at cooler times of the day and ensuring you are well hydrated.
With running clinics also starting up all over the Island it is time to think about your goals. Many of the clinics are focused on fall races – usually a marathon or half marathon – and so we will be running all summer, probably in hot, and sometime humid temperatures. Here are some tips for coping and enjoying your summer running.
- Choose when to run. If you can try and run early in the morning. If you are in a clinic this may well be decided for you. Most start at 7:30 am or 8 am to avoid the heat of the day. Other days, if your lifestyle allows, you can run even earlier. On the plus side is if you are training for a half or full marathon you will have completed your long run early and can enjoy the rest of the day.
- Plan cool routes. We are fortunate to live near the water where sea breezes make it cooler, and we also have trails, as in Elk/Beaver Lake, where there is abundant shade. Check out victoriaweather.ca which has live temperature readings from all over the region, so you can find the cooler spots to run.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We can never stress the importance of drinking water. It is important to drink not just on the run but the day before. Carry water, or if you are running for more than hour have an electrolyte or sports drink. Plan your route where there are washrooms and water fountains so you can top up your bottle. Dehydration is a serious condition so avoid caffeine beforehand, and before you partake of that post-run refreshing beer, drink water first to hydrate.
- Fuel. On long runs you may want to carry some sport nutrition such as gels or chews. These can then be eaten periodically during the run. Experiment with how often to eat – every 30 minutes is standard but for a longer marathon training run, it may be you need to fuel every 15 or 20 minutes. Many runners think that water will keep them hydrated but water doesn’t have carbs or sugar you can lose energy quickly over a longer run. With the addition of extreme heat, you can feel drained and nauseous. So experiment with running and eating and see what works for you.
- Wear technical clothing. Wicking fabrics are the norm for runners but there are a lot out there, so check in with your local running store for advice. Tech shirts do regulate body temperatures so even on cool days the fabric will keep you warm. The close fit the shirt the better – this enables it to wick away moisture. You can get shirts with UV protection – darker colours have a SPF of 40 and lighter colours SPF 20. Chafing can be an issue for many so investing in a 2-in-1 short with a liner may avoid that, and always apply Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product, on sensitive areas. And don’t forget the visor and hat – this protects your scalp and your forehead from the sun. Sunglasses also protect the eyes and also avoids you squinting which can in turn cause tension in the upper body.
- Adjust your training. If you were planning a training run or workout with a high RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) then adjust accordingly. The RPE varies from 1-2 where little effort is required to 9-10 which is maximum effort. In the heat you will feel like you are working harder to maintain your pace, so run by how you feel, not what your GPS is telling you. If it gets too warm, run at a lower RPE.
- Post-exercise cooling. If you plan on running near the ocean or lake, then a dip into the water after you run works wonders. Wade in and give your legs a soak for 15 minutes – you will be amazed how quickly this will aid your recovery. Have a recovery sport drink or chocolate milk afterwards. Research has shown that chocolate milk has produced great results.
- Skip the run and do something else. If the temperature is out of your comfort zone – just don’t do it or head to the treadmill in your gym. The other option is to cross train and go for a bike ride. Incorporating some hills with some steady endurance is a good substitute for a run.
These are just a few tips for help you enjoy your running this summer. See you on the trails.