So July 2013 has finally remembered its meant to be the SUMMER! Someone’s flicked the thermostat up to HOT!!! The cats are lying in strange places around the garden (either flaked out on warm patio slabs, or hiding under shady bushes), the garden is blooming (although the lawn is starting to look a little brown and crispy in places), and British people are getting used to not taking a cardigan and waterproof jacket with them every day ‘just in case’.
One problem with the heat is that running suddenly becomes much harder work. What was meant to be an easy 3 mile run, becomes a sweat-soaked struggle with a sky high heart rate. Apparently after 14 days your body starts to acclimatise to the heat, so the trick is to struggle through the next two weeks and hope your body feels happier in the heat after that.
So, to help you though those 14 days, I give you the Black and Tabby Guide to Hot Runnings.
1. Be prepared to sweat.
Its your body’s mechanism to help cool itself down. Its perfectly natural. It doesn’t mean its pretty though. Make sure you’re wearing running kit that’s really comfortable. If you occasionally get a little bit of chafing somewhere, then make sure you use something like Bodyglide, or good ol’ fashioned Vaseline in the appropriate area.
If you’re self-concious of sweat marks on your clothes, then don’t wear clothes that are going to show them. I have a new running t-shirt, in a gorgeous plum colour that I bought to reward myself for a good Marathon this year. I’ve worn it lots because its light, fits well and is loose rather than clingy. Unfortunately it also shows any sweaty places, no matter how strange.
I give you exhibit A. Tummy sweat marks.
Also be aware you may sweat in places you didn’t know you could. As well as the strange tummy sweat marks, I discovered only this week that on a hot run I end up with sweat dripping from my elbows. Who knew, eh?
2. Sun cream
Make sure you apply an appropriate sun cream before you set out. Give it time to soak in to your skin, and make sure it can cope with sweat. Yesterday I picked up the wrong bottle, and covered one arm in a quite expensive sun cream especially for your face. (I bought it last year, but stopped using it when I realised it just made my face extra shiny). The other arm had my usual sun cream on (bargain, half price own brand from Superdrug, non-animal tested, good for the whole family).
After a hot 40 minute fast-ish run, I discovered that only did I have sweat dripping off my elbows again, but the arm with the expensive ‘face’ sun cream also had sun cream dripping off. I could see the track of white cream from the crease of my elbow, down to my elbow, and then down to my wrist.
There are sun creams that specifically say they are sweat proof so it might be worth trying one of those. I’ve never used one, but am happy to hear any reports of good brands that won’t leave me with white tracks on my arms.
3. Head and Eyes
Obviously if the sun is strong then you need to protect your eyes from the UV rays as well as make it more comfortable to see where you’re going. Sunglasses are good, obviously wrap-around styles are going to protect more of your eyes than the latest fashion glasses, but as long as they’re comfortable to run in and have proper UV filters they’ll be good.
An alternative to sunglasses that I’m only using for the first time this year is a running cap. Previously shunned as looking ‘too geeky’, I decided to give one a try earlier this year. (I was in Decathalon and it was a bargain, let’s be honest). I have discovered that my cap keeps my face shaded so I don’t have to wear sun glasses as well, which is good as my best running sunglasses tend to pinch behind my ears after about 45 minutes). I guess keeping the sun from the top of my head is probably a good thing, although I do find my head gets pretty hot under there. I presume the next step would be a triathalon-style visor, but I don’t think even I’m ready for that level of geekiness yet!
As you puff and pant along in the hot weather, you may well find yourself feeling thirstier than usual. Hardly surprising – think of all that sweat your body has made (I refer you back to Exhibit A above). I used to just take water with me, but I noticed I was getting headaches after long / hard / hot runs. I tried drinking more water, thinking I was dehydrated, but that didn’t help at all. It was only by chance I read somewhere that I could be losing too much salt, and I would be better off drinking an electrolyte drink, which contains the right balance of salts and water for my body.
I dislike any sugary sports drinks, so I was very pleased to stumble upon High 5 Zero tablets. They were in my goodie bag after the Bristol Half last year so I decided to try them. They just dissolve in 750ml of water and are good to go. I find the taste mild and pleasant, not sweet and sticky at all, and easy to drink. My favourite flavour is the Pink Grapefruit, which is strange because I don’t actually like grapefruit. they have zero calories so are great to take on runs where I don’t need any extra calories. As an added bonus, my post-run-headaches have disappeared as well!
Obviously everyone has their own tastes, likes and dislikes, and there are many different brands of sports drink, electrolyte drinks, powders and gels, so get out there and start tasting!
Even following all of my own advice, this was how I looked after my 40 minute slog in the sun yesterday.
I think that may be it – I have used up all my words of wisdom. My final thought – if you can train through this hot weather, think how fast you’ll be at your Autumn race. And dream of how wonderful that first run in the rain will feel!
If I’ve missed anything out, or if you have any top tips for keeping comfortable when running in the heat, please add your comments below.