Cool Summer Running

Aug 1 runSummer is here and for many of us it is time to get out and enjoy outdoor activities – not that we can’t do that all year round on Vancouver Island. But we take on a different perspective when it is warmer, dryer and knowing that we may have three months or more of fabulous weather. With the long range forecast calling for a hot, dry summer we also need to be cognizant of being out in the sun in extreme heat, and taking the necessary precautions to avoid sunburn. Depending on the activity we also may have to adjust our schedules to workout when it is cooler.

Take running as an example – the Island is the best place on the planet to run. Which is why we live here – right? We can run outdoors 12 months of the year – not many places in Canada can boast that. But there is that special time of year when all we need in addition to a good pair of shoes is a singlet, shorts, hat or visor and we are off exploring the wonderful trails and pathways here.  But with the hot summer predicted we may need to make adjustments to our schedules and also what we wear. Here are a few tips for running this summer.

  • When to run. Depending on your running goals and if you run alone or with a group, run early in the day or later in the evening. If it is already 16°C at 8 am with a forecast high of 25 then run at 7 am. If you are training for a half or full marathon you will have completed your long run before the heat of the day.
  • Choose your routes. Run by the water and enjoy sea breezes, where is it usually a few degrees cooler, or on a trail with a lot of shade.  The website has live temperature readings from all over the region so you can find the cooler spots to run
  • Hydrate. It is important to drink not just on the run but before. Drink water the day before a long run and the day of. Carry water (there are some great water belts out there) 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.
  • Eat. On long runs you may want to carry some sport nutrition such as gels or chews and fuel beforehand. Many runners think that water will keep them hydrated but often forget that the difference between a good and bad run is fuel – they can lose energy because they haven’t eaten enough. 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 wicking fabrics. Never wear cotton on a summer run (yes people still do). There are many new fabrics out there, so what to wear? “Firstly, it’s important for technical shirts to be a closer fit as their purpose is to wick away moisture,” says Nick Walker, Owner of Frontrunners. “Tech shirts regulate body temperature so on cooler mornings the shirt will also keep you warmer.” There are shirts that have body mapping: mesh panels on heavy sweat areas such as under the arms and the back. You can also get shirts with UV protection – darker colours have a SPF of 40 and lighter colours SPF 20. Sugoi and New Balance have a shirt with ‘ice-fil’ – a cooling fabric so when the body sweats, the shirt is cool to touch. Chafing is an issue for many so investing in a 2-in-1 short with a liner can avoid that, and always apply Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product, on sensitive areas. And don’t forget the hat and sunglasses. According to Walker, your face is more relaxed when you are not squinting, and that ensures you don’t tense in the shoulders and upper body.
  • Adjust your training. If you were planning a training run 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 watch is telling you. If it gets too warm, run at a lower RPE.
  • Post-exercise cooling. In addition to water and your favourite nutrition try chocolate milk – research has shown it has recovery elements. After a hot run, and if you are by the ocean or a lake, wade in and give your legs a cool soak for 15 minutes. You will feel a lot better for it.
  • Skip it! If the temperature is out of your comfort zone – just skip the run. It won’t hurt and you can always head to the treadmill in the gym and do the run there.

These are just a few tips for help you enjoy your running this summer. See you on trails.

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