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December 30, 2023

Is it safe to run in the heat? Here’s everything you need to know before heading out

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 1:12 am

If the mercury is cranking but you still want to maintain your running fitness, there are some important things to be aware of before you lace up your trainers and hit the pavement.

Of course, running on a treadmill in the air-con is a much more comfortable move – but not always feasible. 

If you’re a runner, or getting into running, here’s what you need to know to help you perform without putting yourself at risk.

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Shot of people running along the beach

How your body responds to hot running

When we get hot, our body releases sweat, which helps us cool off as it evaporates from our skin. The hotter the weather, the more you’re likely to sweat and get dehydrated.

In hot, dry climates, the sweat evaporates really quickly, which can accelerate dehydration. Plus, as more blood pumps to the skin to try and release heat, the heart has to pump harder and you will likely find your heart is beating faster even though your intensity has stayed the same.

In humid climates, your body’s evaporation rate declines because there is already lots of water in the air, which can cause your body to overheat and force you to slow down.

On top of that, the heat and sun cause an elevation in your core body temperature, which makes running much harder.

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The risks of hot running

All of these elements combined can put your body at risk of overheating.

“Major signs of overheating are a dry mouth, headache and blurry vision. The first sign from the outside of the body is a red face,” Mark Howard from Running Coach Melbourne told 9Honey Coach.

“‘If any of these are present stop exercising and get some fluids in the body and apply an ice pack [to the armpit, neck, head and groin] to cool you down.”

Overheating can cause heat exhaustion, possible fainting, or muscle cramps that can lead to injuries if you push too hard.

“Older runners without a large fitness base could even be at risk of stroke,” Howard explains.  

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Prepping for a hot run

If you want to go for a run, then the obvious best idea would be to run first thing in the morning before the sun is high, or at night after the sun is setting.

“Wear a hat and sunscreen and stick to shaded areas as best as you can, especially on days that are over 35 degrees,” Howard says.

“Avoid eating salty foods that will dehydrate you. Fresh fruit is an ideal pre-run snack.”

Silhouette of a woman drinking form a cold water bottle. She is exercising at sunset or sunrise. City of Sydney in the background. Copy space.

If you go to the bathroom and your wee is dark yellow then you are dehydrated – for optimum hydration, you should have clear urine.

“It’s important you don’t run for long periods without hydration,” Howard points out.

“Drink plenty of water before, during and after a run, or drink an electrolyte sports drink during your run, which can assist with delivering fluid and fuel around your body to keep you running at an optimum level.”

Face it: You’ll have to run slower

If you’re going to run in the hot weather, then don’t aim for a PB because your body’s physiological processes are going to slow you down.

“On hot days, you might like to do shorter sessions, such as interval or speed training,” Howard suggests.

“Train somewhere with ample shade so when you are in recovery mode you can stand or sit in the shade.”

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Young woman running

While Howard says he never usually recommends treadmill running, he makes an exception on hot days.

“Running on treadmills is not recommended by professional running coaches because it puts too much impact on the body,” he says.

“But if the temperature is over 40 degrees then it would probably be best if people stayed in the air con and run on the treadmill.”

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