While a sunny day can be a great time for a run, there are some challenges that come with training in hotter weather, such as dehydration and efforts being perceived as harder. But don’t feel like you have to hide away from the heat, you can still train effectively throughout the summer!
Even though we tend to prefer spring and autumn training, training in the summer does bring benefits. Not only do we have more daylight hours to play with, but our fitness levels also tend to naturally be higher in the summer we are taking part in a lot more outdoor activities, for example, gardening or cutting the grass.
So how can you best tackle the heat during training?
Pick your time wisely
We all know that the sun is at its hottest between 11-3 pm so it wouldn’t be wise to choose this window of time to do your interval or threshold session. Choose cooler parts of the day to make your run more comfortable. If you don’t have any other choice but to train during these hours, make sure these sessions are easy recovery sessions and you start off super slow to ease yourself into them.
Think about your kit
Your kit needs to be of good quality, lightweight, light in colour, with plenty of air vents, and able to wick sweat away from the body to keep you dry. A sun hat, sunglasses and SPF are all key pieces for your summer training kit also.
Keep well hydrated
This is important all year round but even more so when it’s scorching outside. The easiest way to tell if you are hydrated enough is by checking the colour of your urine – as long as it’s clear/light yellow, you know you are hydrated and if it’s any darker then you need to drink more.
Sports drinks and electrolyte tablets like HIGH5 ZERO are ideal for staying hydrated in the summer because they will increase your water absorption rate and replace the electrolytes you lose when you sweat. They taste great too! Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before going out on the bike or for a run is also key, as these both increase urine output which can make you even more dehydrated.
Be patient when your training starts in the heat of summer, as your body will need some time to acclimatise to hotter conditions so don’t look for too much too soon. Gradually ease your way into summer running before you get burnt (!) out.
Find the shade
Regardless of the time you go out, it’s still wise to seek out shadier sports when you can. Parks and trails with lots of trees can help with this.
Work to effort, not pace
Your pace when you run in the heat might be a lot different to when you are training in cooler conditions. Don’t panic, this is normal and must be accounted for. That’s why it’s important to work out to the given effort rather than a set pace which may risk you going too hard in the heat. Your heart rate will also be naturally elevated more than normal in the heat, so be aware of this and adjust your sessions accordingly.
Eat before your workout
If you are getting sessions in early to avoid the heat, it’s still important that you eat before your longer or harder sessions. You need energy and carbohydrate and in the heat, you can actually burn carbohydrate at a faster rate. Don’t make the classic mistake of not fuelling before your long ride or harder run just because it’s too early, try snacking on a HIGH5 Energy Bar before you head out… fuel is key! This may mean a bit of extra planning in terms of sleep and setting alarms, but it is vital to train well and feel good.
Know when to stop
Heat-related illnesses can be serious, so be sensible when exercising in the heat and if at any point you feel unwell or not right, stop, seek shake, rehydrate and get someone to take you home.
Try something new
If it really is too hot to train on a particular day, stay inside for some cross-training instead. You could also try some aqua-jogging in your local pool to keep you extra cool! Remember to follow all social distancing and government guidelines if you are using a public place.
Top tip! Wear a lightweight light coloured cap and soak this in cold water before you start and during a run on a hot day. Pour cold water over your thighs, neck and head to help cool the body and core temperature.