It’s that time of the year again when the temperatures are soaring to unbelievable heights (they try to top themselves each year, don’t they?), a shimmery haze hangs over streets and the tar starts oozing off the sides of roads. At the very thought of running in such a weather, you start sweating in places you didn’t even know you could sweat out of. Even if you do go on runs, you feel miserable, lethargic and like a husk of your former running self. But you know you’d go crazy if you sat at home for too long. Fret not, for I’m here to tell you how to get in the groove for summer running.
While there are some things you can’t control, like the annual revolution of the earth around the sun and the literal roasting our planet gets when it’s at Perigee, there are other things which you can control, like how you prepare for and respond to the heat. Here are a few tips to keep your running shoes from collecting dust throughout summer:
- Selecting the best possible time(s) during the day to go on runs: During the sultry season, the best times which come to mind for heading out are mornings and evenings. They are cooler than the most part of the day, so you don’t overheat too quickly. Also, the rising or setting sun makes for a great backdrop against the road. Personally, I prefer the evenings – any time after 5:30 PM – which is when the sun starts to set, and unlike the mornings, the temperature can only go lower from then on. This might be just what you need to finish your run strong, rather than have the rising heat suck up your reserves of energy at an ever-increasing rate in the morning.
- Wearing appropriate clothing: Try to forgo tight-fitting running clothes, in favor of loose (but not ill-fitting) garments. This enables you to take advantage of any breeze that you may run into, due to better direct contact of the flowing air with your skin. Go for sweat-wicking polyester rather than cotton, which might get drenched in perspiration and cling to your body, hindering movement and comfort. Also, wear light-colored clothing, which help reflect the sun’s rays better and therefore keep you cooler throughout the run. Don’t wear caps or gloves while running: your body’s extremities like the head and hands are like the heat-exchangers in a car. They need to be kept exposed to the air while doing any strenuous activity for long periods of time.
- Drink lots of fluids: Fluid consumption requirements of your body goes up during summers, whether you’re active or not. It helps to not only naturally cool your body through perspiration, but also to remove toxic chemicals and waste. But sipping water at regular intervals throughout the day also improves your body’s water retention, which comes to great advantage during longer runs if you’re running without a bottle of water or ORS in hand (not that it’s okay to run without proper and regular hydration. Aim to drink a few sips of water every 2 kilometers). If you can, go stash a few bottles of water or ORS along the route before you run. Also, drink a few glasses of cold water before you start, to pre-cool your core.
- Acclimatise properly: Start off slowly, much slower than your regular running pace. For example, if your long-distance pace is 6-7 minutes per kilometer, go at 8-9 minutes per kilometer for the first 10-15 minutes. This will help your core stay cooler for longer, so you can avoid heating up too quickly and hitting the dreaded “wall” early on during your run. Perform dynamic warm ups to avoid muscle cramps later on. If you have a water body nearby, make sure you plan your route to include a trip there. Cooling breezes usually flow around such places, and might provide much needed respite from the heat. And during the last leg of your run, slow down instead of speeding up, because this is when you’re heating up the most and losing fluids from your body the fastest. It’s better to back off and conserve your energy to finish the run, rather than burn it all up before the end.
- Watch what you eat and drink: We all know that a hit of caffeine before a workout increases performance, but caffeine, along with alcohol, is a diuretic: meaning it can cause your body to lose fluids by way of passing urine. This will dehydrate you faster, at a time when you’re already dehydrating at an elevated rate. Eat lots of fruits during the day – the natural fructose will contribute towards building glycogen stores in your body. Also, fibrous fruits keep you from over-eating during the day, which might lead to bloating, nausea and a general unease while running. Here is a list of healthy food and drinks you can have before heading out.
- Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Heat illness can not only prematurely end your workout, but also leave you very sick for the next couple of days. When the day has been especially hot, and you’ve been outdoors for a long while, consider staying indoors and/or taking a rain check. Go run on a tread-mill or swim a few laps of the pool. But if you still decide to head out, and you observe any of the following signs during running, it’s time to end the run, find some shade, re-hydrate and find a ride back home: Confusion or lack of concentration, tunnel vision/blurring of vision around the edges, lack of muscular control, muscle spasms and pain, rapid breathing, over-sweating followed by clammy skin and ceasing of sweating, hot and cold flashes, upset stomach, dizziness, vomiting.
We hope the above-mentioned tips help you out. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing you post your summer running photos on our Facebook page. Show us some love and support!