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Running in the Sun — Top Ten Tips for Keeping your Cool

Posted on July 10 2018

Here comes the sun …… the skies are blue and temperatures are soaring.  Summer is a wonderful time of the year to get out and enjoy the great outdoors but some runners may not agree.  The heat can make even the fittest of athletes struggle.  The most important thing is to stay safe when you are running in this weather.  Here are my top ten tips to keep your cool:

 

  1. Wear sun cream. With the sun this strong it is absolutely vital that you wear sun cream.  The sun’s UV rays can damage our skin, causing sunburn, skin ageing and increasing the risk of skin cancer.  Wear a cream with a high SPF and one which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  Make sure you apply the cream before you head out, most creams should be applied 30 minutes before any sun exposure and they need to be reapplied every two hours

 

  1. Wear suitable clothing. Aim to wear loose fitting sportswear in light colours.  Go for technical fabrics which are lightweight, breathable and which wick sweat and try our shorts which are fabulous for summer running!

 

  1. Hydrate and consider electrolytes. When you run in the heat you sweat.  A lot.  It is incredibly important that you stay adequately hydrated.  Prepare yourself for your run by ensuring you’ve taken enough fluid on board before you leave the house and continue to hydrate as you exercise. When you sweat, you lose salts as well as water.  It can be helpful to add electrolytes to your drink to replace some of this loss.  There are many sports electrolytes tablets available, try a few and see which works for you.

 

  1. Change your route. Use the summer to try out trail running. If you opt for forest runs, there’ll be some shade offered by the trees and it may be cooler than running along an exposed path.  If you don’t fancy the trails, try to choose routes which offer some protection from the sun.

 

  1. Use a gym. If the heat really is too much, head to an air-conditioned gym.  Use it as an opportunity to practice interval or hill training on a treadmill.

 

  1. Slow your pace and run for shorter times. You run the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke in the summer. Don’t chance making yourself unwell.  Be prepared to take your pace right down and to run for shorter time periods.  Don’t aim for any PBs or intense training workouts.  Keep it slow and steady and stay safe.

 

  1. Run early in the morning or in the evening. If at all possible, try to avoid the midday sun.  Aim to run before 10am or after 4pm when it will be cooler.

 

  1. Keep cool as you run. There are several things you can try to keep cool as you run. Try holding your water bottle against the back of your neck, splashing water on your head, or using a spritzer bottle to spray your face with water.  Some runners like to go out with wet hair so that there is a cooling effect as the water evaporates.

 

  1. Be aware. It’s a good idea to be aware of what symptoms you might experience if you’re overheating.  Things to look out for include feeling faint, lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous. Other danger signs include vomiting, palpitations, heavy sweating or lack of sweating, paleness, cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, feeling tired or weak, headaches, cool and moist skin or clammy skin, rapid or shallow breathing, feeling irritable or confused.  The NHS guidance about heat exhaustion and heat stroke is available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/. 

 

  1. Run with a buddy. Running with a buddy is always fun. It can be helpful to run with a friend in the Summer so you can look out for each other and make sure you’re both safe.  If you prefer to run solo, make sure you tell someone what route you’ll be doing and when to expect you back, so they know if there are any problems.

Dr Emma Short

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