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Posted on July 10, 2018

Running in the Sun - Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Cool

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Here is the sun …… the sky is blue and the temperatures are skyrocketing. Summer is a wonderful time of year to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, but some runners may disagree. The heat can make even the fittest athletes struggle. The most important thing is to stay safe while running in this weather. Here are my top ten tips for keeping your cool:

  1. Wear sunscreen. With the sun this strong, it is absolutely vital that you wear sunscreen. The sun’s UV rays can damage our skin, causing sunburn, skin aging and increasing the risk of skin cancer. Wear a cream with a high SPF and one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply the cream before you go, most creams should be applied 30 minutes before any sun exposure and should be reapplied every two hours.
  1. Wear suitable clothing. Try to wear loose sports clothes in light colors. Choose lightweight, breathable and sweat-wicking technical materials and try our shorts which are fabulous for summer running!

  1. Stay hydrated and think about electrolytes. When you run in the heat, you sweat. A lot. It is extremely important that you stay adequately hydrated. Prepare for your run by making sure you have taken enough fluids on board before you leave the house and continue to hydrate yourself while you exercise. When you sweat, you lose salts as well as water. It can be helpful to add electrolytes to your drink to replace some of this loss. There are many electrolyte tablets for sports, try a few and see what works for you.
  1. Change your route. Take advantage of the summer to try your hand at trail running. If you go for forest trails there will be some shade offered by the trees and it can be cooler than running along an exposed path. If you don’t like trails, try to choose routes that offer some protection from the sun.
  1. Use a gym. If the heat is really too much, head to an air-conditioned gym. Use it as an opportunity to practice interval training or hill training on a treadmill.
  1. Slow down your pace and run for less. You run the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke in the summer. Don’t risk making yourself sick. Be prepared to slow your pace and run for shorter periods. Do not aim for PB or intense workouts. Stay slow and steady and stay safe.

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  1. Running early in the morning or in the evening. If possible, try to avoid the midday sun. Try to run before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. when it is cooler.
  1. Stay cool while you run. There are several things you can try to keep cool while you run. Try holding your water bottle against your neck, splashing water on your head, or using a spray bottle to spray water on your face. Some runners like to go out with wet hair so that there is a cooling effect when the water evaporates.
  1. To be aware. It’s a good idea to be aware of the symptoms you might experience if you overheat. Things to watch out for include feeling faint, light-headed, light-headed, or nauseous. Other danger signs include vomiting, palpitations, profuse or lack of perspiration, pallor, cramps in the arms, legs or stomach, feeling tired or weak, headache , cold and damp skin or clammy skin, rapid or shallow breathing, feeling irritated or confused. NHS guidelines on heat exhaustion and heatstroke are available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/.
  1. Running with a buddy. Running with a buddy is always fun. It can be helpful to run with a friend in the summer so you can look out for each other and make sure the two of you are safe. If you prefer to run solo, be sure to tell someone what route you are going to do and when to expect back, so they know if there are any issues.

Dr Emma Short

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