Running through the heatwave

The other day I was asked to provide some advice on running in the heat for a Huffington Post article. Below are my tips in full…

It’s good to have a gym membership for when the weather makes it difficult to run outside. There’s so many low cost gyms around that offer no contract (The Gym Group) and some will let you pay per visit (Fitness4less). Even the most basic of gyms will have a treadmill, just make sure you go equipped with your paces as both min per mile, min per km and km per hour as you never know how the treadmill will be set up.

If running outside, it’s best to work to effort and forget the pace on your watch. You may be running a lot slower than your usual pace but that’s fine. And it’s ok to stop to take walk breaks too.

Go early or late in the day when it’s cooler and plan shady routes where you can. Parks are great because of the tree coverage but even in urban areas, the buildings will cast shade if you avoid midday and run on the correct side of the road for the time of day.

A lot of shops or cafes now will top up a water bottle for you and I’ve stopped at pubs on long runs for a glass of tap water.

Adjust your goal if you’re planning to do a race. I’ve been in races on hot days where runners have been strewn around the course because they didn’t take the weather into account and tried to run their goal time. There will be other races.

Pay attention to your heart rate. You don’t necessarily need a heart rate monitor. You’ll know when you’re working hard and should slow down or stop if you feel it racing.

I wouldn’t reduce the frequency of my runs but possibly the distance. You can also split the distance across the day. So if you usually do 6 miles on a Wednesday, try 3 in the morning and 3 in the evening.

You can also cross train as an alternative. Cycling, while still outside, often feels cooler because of the breeze from moving faster. And you’re able to reduce the effort better on a bike, even not peddling in parts, but still keep moving. Swimming is another good option, indoors or outside. With either of these, aim to do the same duration as your run would take. So if a 3 mile run takes you 30 mins usually, swim or cycle for 30 mins.

Above all, don’t put yourself at risk for the sake of a run. The weather will cool down eventually.