How to cope with running in the heat

Running in the heat can be difficult, and as we come into the summer months it’s important to understand what happens to your body and how to combat the effects. In this blog from Kate Percy, we discover the best ways to cope with summer running. 

To kick off this blog, Sophie Heath, nutritionist and sports scientist, explains what happens to your body when running in the heat and how to adapt your diet to cope better. Then Kate Percy shares her top tips learned through years of experience (good and bad!).

Sophie says: “Running in the heat changes things. Your body must work even harder to maintain homeostasis (the point at which things are maintained at an optimal level in the body, which includes our body temperature).

When we exercise in the heat the intensity gets harder and the utilisation of our fuel changes – with a preference over carbohydrates versus fat. Ensuring you keep an adequate level of energy-giving carbohydrates in your diet around warmer conditions is very important.

As you would have noticed your sweat response is a lot more sensitive too, meaning you are likely to sweat earlier and with greater volume. That means staying on top of your hydration levels is essential, to ensure you don’t dehydrate (as this can severely impact on performance).”

Kate Percy’s top tips for running in the heat

Start your training in a hydrated state

This can help reduce the risk of dehydration affecting your performance levels. Drink water regularly throughout the day, especially in the days leading up to a race. When you drink too much in one go, your body often doesn’t retain all of it, so be sure to drink little and often. Check the colour of your pee. Pale, almost transparent, means you’re hydrated. The darker yellow it is, the less hydrated you are.

Foods can have a lot of fluid in them too

You don’t just have to drink water to keep hydrated. Snack on hydrating foods. Juicy fruits such as oranges and watermelon (97% water) provide great hydration. Try this delicious watermelon and feta salad – it’s hydrating and packed with electrolytes.

Ensure you’re keeping fuelled

Hot conditions can impact your appetite, but as discussed above as the intensity is harder during the heat you need to make sure you’re eating enough to keep your energy levels topped up. Energy balls and sports drinks can be a great way to fuel up before an event, or during it.

Drink during your run

For longer runs (over an hour) you may need to replace lost fluid with a sports drink (see two recipes below) during your run. Sip as you go – practise drinking and running at the same time… it’s quite an art!

Choose a shady route!

Often the sun beating down on you can really exacerbate the warm weather, so try to avoid this where possible.

Pour water over yourself

You can lose 70% of your body heat through the top of your head, so when it is really hot, and in races, don’t just drink water, pour water over yourself when you run to cool you down.

Wear appropriate clothing

Loose-fitting clothes made with high tech material rather than cotton, which can cling to your skin.

Wear a sweat proof sunscreen

Goes without saying…

Recognise the warning signals and listen to your body

Don’t run through heat cramps. If you don’t feel quite right, reduce your intensity. Stop if you feel faint, weak, dizzy or confused. Rest, get into the shade and drink a sports drink.

Rehydrate with adequate fluids to replace what you’ve lost

Aim to drink more fluid than you’ve lost and include electrolytes too – in your drink or foods. Salty foods will replace electrolytes lost through sweat which can help with rehydration after exercise – a Marmite sandwich as a post-run snack works a treat!

Home-made isotonic sports drinks

Recipe 1

» 250ml pure, unsweetened fruit juice (any flavour)
» 250ml water
» Pinch of salt (one fifth of a teaspoon)

Mix all ingredients together and shake well. Store in the fridge.

Recipe 2

» 100ml squash (not sugar free)
» 400ml water
» Pinch of salt (one fifth of a teaspoon)

Mix all ingredients together and shake well. Store in the fridge.

This blog was originally published on behalf of Kate Percy’s Go Faster Food in 2018. You can find out more about Kate Percy here. Kate is also one of the experts in our Run Mummy Run Community Run Club, helping you to improve your running with support from our team of experts and club coach.

Main image by NoName_13 from Pixabay

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