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How to Safely Run in the Heat This Summer

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By Chris Hunkeler under CC BY-SA 2.0

Being an avid runner usually means that you run in all kinds of weather conditions, including cold temperatures, snow, rain, extreme humidity, fog as well as on the hottest days of the year. Usually, runners take into consideration the health warnings in regard to running in the scorching heat, and try to avoid it by going for pre-dawn, early morning, evening or nightly runs. Although this is a better option, it is still possible to run in the heat, if you follow some easy tips to ensure that you stay safe, hydrated.

The fact is that our bodies are very adaptable to heat, much more adaptable to other stressful weather conditions, such as freezing temperatures or rising altitudes. The reasoning behind this fact is that humans evolved in conditions which required running in heat. This though does not mean that precautions need not be taken when getting ready to run in scorching hot conditions. This can pose serious dangers to your health and well being.

How to Prepare for Running a Race in Hot Weather:

  1. Help your body adapt to the heat by training in hot conditions. The human body can learn to expect a rise in the core temperature and will become more efficient in the heat, over time. This may cause you to add a few pounds to your weight, but this will ensure you have more fluids to lose at the actual race without getting dehydrated. This will also help improve the blood supply to the skin without hindering its flow to the muscles.
  2. Slow down your pace and shorten the mileage when the temperatures and humidity begin crawling up to dangerous levels. Stay conservative and your performance can be better that that of the competition.
  3. Remember that your muscles get depleted from oxygen even when you are barely sweating and running in cool conditions. This makes them less efficient, especially for longer distances.
  4. If you are preparing for a race in hot conditions, ensure that you back off and let your body rest two days before the race in order to prevent overstressing it at the race.
  5. Use more electrolyte supplements and drink more water so that you stay safely hydrated. You can train to consume larger quantities of water and electrolytes when training for a race in very hot conditions. Make sure you stay hydrated in order to stay safe and to perform better at the race.
  6. You can prepare for a race in hotter conditions than your training conditions by wearing sauna suits, long sleeves and tights when running, which will help your body adapt to the anticipated heat. Your body will start sweating early on in the run, and the salt levels of your sweat will gradually decrease as you start sweating more profusely, which will help your body preserve the much needed sodium for proper body functioning and a better performance at the race.
  7. You may also spend time in a sauna, in order to prepare for the heat at the race.
  8. According to experienced runners and heat experts, you can safely train your body to adapt to running in higher temperatures in just about 8-14 days before the race. If you are preparing for cold temperatures or running at high altitudes, the preparation time is much slower and can take more time.
  9. The heavier you are, the more your body will be affected by the heat, so keep that in mind when you are planning your pacing in hot conditions.

By Robert Brown

Robert Brown is a runner, writer and the editor of Runabees where he shares tips how to choose and use quality running shoes. He is a passionate fitness enthusiast and he embarks on a ton of adventures including diving, camping, hiking, and martial arts.

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