10 tips for making running in the heatwave tolerable

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Training in the heatwave? In a recent Twitter poll, 70% of our RW readers said they didn't enjoy running in the heat, yet understanding how your body cools itself may help you figure out how best to run in hot weather.

When you run, you get warm because your exercising muscles increase body temperature. When body temperature rises, a greater percentage of blood flow is directed to your skin surface in order to carry away this internal heat, and you break a sweat. However, it is not sweating that cools you, but rather the evaporation of the sweat from your skin. As sweat evaporates, we are cooled.

Along with higher temperatures, summer weather usually means high humidity. Heat and humidity are a double-whammy. The higher the humidity, the more saturated the air is with water, and the harder it is for you to cool off because sweat simply cannot evaporate due to the already saturated air.

Related: 8 tips for running a race in heat you haven't trained for 

Since sweat is composed of plasma from your blood, sweating can decrease blood volume. This is why adequate hydration becomes extremely important in hot weather. You are also losing electrolytes in your sweat, so consuming a sports drink or taking an electrolyte supplement can be vital.

Related: The dangers of over-hydrating in the heat

As blood flow is redirected to the skin's surface, it means less blood is available to your working muscles. With less blood available, the heart is forced to work harder to sustain hard running, and the result is a higher heart rate. Simply put, warm, humid weather means your usual run pace has just become much harder. 

This also means you will go through carbohydrate stores faster than usual and you are more likely to accumulate a higher level of blood lactate, too.

Here are some tips to help you get through the summer months:

1. Set your alarm clock 

If you can, run at the coolest time of day, which is usually just before sunrise.

2. Say goodbye to lunchtime runs

Avoid running during the middle of the day as this is usually the hottest time.

3. Embrace the park

Plan your run around shady routes and/or routes with water fountains to allow you to rehydrate mid-run.

4. Plan your outfit carefully

Wear loose fitting, light-colored, tech clothing that wicks away sweat and dries quickly.

5. Stay hydrated

Consume adequate amounts of water and sports drink. (Check out our complete guide to hydration.)

6. Wear sweat-proof sunscreen

Avoid getting sunburned because injured skin loses its ability to sweat, making cooling less efficient.

7. Check your prescription

Examine any medications you may be taking because some can increase your sensitivity to heat.

8. Slow down

Slow your run pace down to adjust for heat and humidity.

9. Listen to your body

Run by feel or Perceived Exertion level rather than pace. If a run feels hard, it is hard regardless of actual pace.

10. Head to the gym

It's fine to use the treadmill for some runs when the weather is really bad. That said, the best way to cope in the long run is to stay outdoors - running two or three times a week outdoors is enough to keep you acclimatised to the heat.