Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
My Tips For Summer Running
I’ll probably regret writing this piece as it’s likely to end the rather lovely heatwave we’re having, but it’s time for some tips on running in the sun. At the moment pretty much all I’m doing is running, eating and working so it’s been nice to enjoy the early heatwave out in the forest. Like any weather condition though, warmer weather requires thought to ensure that the run is still a happy experience, here are my top 5 tips for summer running.
1. Hydrate Properly
Even on a short run I can sweat a lot, if I get dehydrated my performance drops and I can start feeling very ill. For that reason I always carry water with me on all my runs. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really short run as if I want to go further I want to have the option. There are many different ways to carry water, my preference is a hydration pack with a bladder, this allows me to carry 2 litres if I like with extra pockets for soft bottles if I want. It also provides convenient storage space for things like a mobile and the dog lead. Mine is a camelbak but that’s more as it was all I could find in the shop last time I ran in the U.S. than any brand preference.
2. Remember Isotonics
If you’re running in high heat or for long periods it will not just be water you are losing. I found out the hard way during the 2016 San Francisco Spartan Super that water alone is not enough. The course was heavy hill work in baking heat and when the cramp hit me it was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The answer is to use isotonics to rebalance salt and other mineral levels in the body. These can be added to water as with Tailwind or taken in gel form. If using gels I’d avoid ones with caffeine and sugar, if adding to water get a non-obnoxious flavour as it’s likely to affect the taste of the water in your bladder for some time.
3. Sun Cream
It sounds basic but I still manage to forget all the time, if you’re running in the sunshine, wear suncream. Often a nice cool wind can mask the strength of the sun which in turn can cause a painful burn. In higher heat I’ll be wearing less clothing and so there’s more skin on display to burn. The complications associated with excess exposure to the sun are well known. When I run I try to choose waterproof sun cream so that the sweat does not wash it away. I don’t mind this really as the smell of sun cream always reminds me of holidays.
4. Insect repellant
I run in the forest and it’s a simple fact that the heat brings out lots of creatures that like to munch on people. Insect bites are rubbish so make sure to dose up with insect repellant. Some sun creams have this built in but do remember to check. If you buy separately then my recommendation is Jungle Formula.
Noel Coward sang ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen; Go out in the midday sun’ and never a truer word was said. Whether it is because we English consider the sun a novelty or simply a lack of common sense we don’t respect the strength of the sun in the middle of the day. That’s dumb because that level of heat can put measurable strain on the cardio vascular system. Also consider any furry running partner you may have. While I have the ability to have a drink and the sense to stop if I need, Florence does not. From about this time of year onwards I would not really run with her past about 10am just so that she does not overheat. I would suggest evening running but by the time the sun has abated a little I’m usually busy with other things.
So, run in the sun, have fun running in the sun but take care, it’s not fun dealing with unpleasantness that’s easily avoided.