Th ere’s nothing like a sunny day to inspire you outdoors for a run. Free from the burden of layers and with the warm wind in your hair, summer running can be a joyful experience. But, exercising in the heat can bring challenges for your body – not only is it a sweaty, thirst-inducing affair, research shows a rise in temperature of just three degrees can affect running performance. Without the proper precautions, overheating hampers your speed and distance, and can lead to heat exhaustion. The good news is, with the right kit and a few clever tactics, you can make running a breeze, however hot it is outdoors.
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DON THE SUNNIES
They don’t just look cool, sunglasses can improve your running performance. Squinting into the sun makes your body tense up, which can hamper your form and stamina. A good pair of sports sunglasses will relax your eyes and your running style. And, of course, there’s the added UV protection, too – a must if you’re outdoors for extended periods. Look for running-specific eyewear from reputable brands. Ensure it’s lightweight and a good fit; wraparound styles will shield your eyes more and keep out pollen. If you’re doing longer runs, look for ventilation to reduce any fogging. TRY THIS: Kalenji Trail 900 Adult’s Photochromatic Cat 1 to 3, £24.99, decathlon.co.uk.
CHOOSE COOL KIT
It’s time to ditch those cotton T-shirts. Making the switch to a high-tech top can revolutionise your summer runs. Cotton and other non-wicking fabrics cause sweat to condense on your body, which can lead to overheating. Breathable garments wick sweat away from your body and out through the fabric where they evaporate to keep you deliciously cool. Sweating can cause blisters and chafing so choose moisture- wicking fabrics for your socks and use a sweat-resistant lube for trouble spots such as under bra straps. TRY THIS: Asics Cooling Seamless Bra, £45, asics.com; Kalenji Run Light Women’s Running T-Shirt, £7.99, decathlon.co.uk.
It’s easy to forget how strong the sun’s rays are if there’s a breeze or it’s an overcast day. But, even in cloudy conditions, UV rays can damage your skin in the time it takes to do an average-length run. To protect your skin and stay cool, avoid running when the sun is at its peak, between 11am and 3pm, and stick to shady routes. Cover up in cool, loose-fitting layers and slap on a sweat-resistant sunscreen over any exposed areas. For your face, choose a product that won’t run into your eyes and don’t forget to cover the back and sides of your neck, temples and ears. Wear a cap (or sun visor) and, if you’re sun sensitive, consider wicking clothing with SPF protection. TRY THIS: Soar Lightweight Cap, £35; soarrunning.com; Shiseido WetForce Clear Stick UV Protector SPF50+, £28.00 for 15g; escentual.com.
ACCLIMATISE YOUR BODY
Whether you’re doing a summer race, running in a foreign clime or simply training in hotter UK weather, it’s vital to let your body acclimatise. Running raises your body temperature, and this heat needs to be lost via sweating to prevent overheating. If the air temperature is high or the weather humid, it’s more difficult for your body to sweat. Your body sends blood to your skin to trigger sweating, meaning there’s less blood to carry oxygen to your muscles, so you’ll find it harder to run at your usual pace. The solution? Slowly build up your runs – it takes about two weeks of training in warmer conditions to acclimatise properly. Your body will start to anticipate the rise in temperature and sweat earlier in your workout. Start off training at the coolest times of day (usually early morning or late evening), then experiment at warmer times, building up duration and speed, and remembering to stay hydrated and use sun protection. If a cap makes your head too hot, try wearing a visor.
In the summer months, dehydration will slow your pace and, in severe cases, can lead to heat exhaustion and collapse. The amount of fluid you need to drink depends on how much you sweat, so it’s key to devise a tailored hydration strategy. Weigh yourself before and after a run. Any weight loss indicates dehydration and means you need to increase your fluid intake on your next run. If you gain weight, you’ll know you need to cut down next time. Always ensure you’re hydrated before your run – sip water as needed during your session and then rehydrate straight afterwards. For a shorter run, a single bottle should suffice. For longer- distance running, you’ll need more. Investing in a hydration belt that stores multiple bottles or a hydration vest/backpack is a sensible move. TRY THIS: Kalenji Running Waistband 2 Water Bottles 250ml, £14.99; decathlon. co.uk; OMM Trailfire Vest, £55; runnersneed.com.
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