Once the sun comes out and the brief British summertime appears, there are more people making the most of it by running and exercising outside. Regardless of whether you are a dedicated runner who is out all year round or a fair weather runner who has latched off the treadmill after 6 months, there are risks that the summertime presents and simple steps to safely cope with them.
One of the biggest risks in the heat is dehydration as you generally sweat more in warmer temperatures. Although sweating is a necessary process that cools the body, it results in the loss of water and salts in the body. Make sure you are hydrated before you start exercising and have taken on extra water in preparation. Not everyone likes running with water, but it is important to have a source of fluid with you in the heat. Carrying a water bottle such as the Alexandra Sports Run Feed Bottle easily wraps around you hand so it doesn’t interfere with your performance. Another option is a waist pouch such as the Hilly Bottle Belt that holds a water bottle and is easily accessible.
Increased sweating and dehydration during exercise resulting in a loss of fluid and minerals in the body can also cause heat cramps. This prevents the muscles from contracting properly and if replacement fluids aren’t provided, this can lead to muscle damage. Adding an electrolyte mix such as the SIS Go Electrolyte to your water will help replace essential salts, potassium, magnesium and calcium that your body loses during exercise to help with muscular contraction. Another risk of reduced fluid and salts in the body is heat exhaustion. This is characterised by dizziness, weakness, lack of coordination and heavier than usual sweating accompanied by moist and cold skin. Make sure you consume at least a pint of water straight after your run to replace the fluid lost. Premaking an electrolyte mix and putting it into the fridge before heading outside for our run enables you to return to a nice chilled drink with all the essential fluids and electrolytes your body needs to aid recovery. If you suspect heatstroke, seek medical advice immediately.
Each individual has their own preference of what clothing they feel comfortable running in at different times of the year. With any item of clothing, make sure it contains wicking fabrics rather than cotton. Although a natural material, cotton holds moisture next to the skin making it heavy and uncomfortable to exercise in. Technical, synthetic fibres on the other hand wick away moisture from the skin keeping it cool and dry to help prevent you overheating. This also allows the clothing to move with your body rather than being stuck to the skin and debilitating performance. A necessity that we recommend for summertime running is a good pair of shorts, and we have a great range available for men and women.
The rules of clothing also translate to socks; keep to technical, moisture wicking fabrics. The moisture wicked away from the feet can then travel out through the mesh in the shoes. This will prevent bacteria and friction building up which will then reduce rubbing and blistering which can sometimes lead to infections.
Wearing a good technical cap such as the Buff Cap will help keep the sun off your head as well as wicking away any moisture to help minimise overheating. Wearing a cap will also help keep the sun out of your eyes, although many people prefer to wear protective eyewear. Running specific sunglasses such as those from Nike will filter the sunlight to optimise vision whilst protecting the eyes from harmful rays.
Try and keep to running in the shade where possible to minimise the risk of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, and if at any point you feel unwell, stop running immediately, hydrate yourself and cool down. If you are ever in doubt, we strongly recommend seeking medical advice. So get out there and enjoy the British summertime while you can, it won’t be around for long!