It seems that every year we get told by some dubious weatherman or other that this summer is the hottest since records began and they are almost always off. However I can't help but giving the reports a bit of credit this time round, this summer is truly a scorcher and what's more it seems to show absolutely no signs of cooling down any time soon.
While this is great news for anyone planning a BBQ, it can throw a serious spanner in the works for anyone trying to keep on top of their running. Just because we are in the middle of a heat wave though doesn't mean that you have to be relegated to running on a treadmill in the gym. Instead stick to these five golden rules of training in the sun.
If you've never experienced the hell that is heat stroke then it might be difficult to believe just how nasty over exposure (along with dehydration) to the sun can be. But heat stroke can not only ruin a workout it can very easily leave you in A & E, aside from drinking plenty the other big factor is clothing.
Wear light, loose fitting clothes and always wear a proper hat. Bandannas may be great from keeping sweat out of your eyes but they won't keep the sun off your noggin. Another great advantage of wearing a cap is that if it's really hot you can stick a couple of ice cubes under there before you set off and it will keep your head cool for most of your run as the ice melts. Alternatively dip your cap when ever you run past a (clean) stream.
Despite what Neil Coward sang all those years ago, running in the midday sun is a recipe for disaster regardless of whether you are an Englishman or a Mad dog. Instead get your miles in either early in the morning or later on in the evening when its cooler and the sun is a little less fierce.
Plus you can use these summer months as an opportunity to get off the tarmac and give some trails a go. Not only will this give you a change of scenery but cities are notorious for being boiling throughout the day as the buildings and roads store so much heat. In some places this can even make running in the evening uncomfortable a tad challenging.
Wherever you are running one easy way to stay cool is to run in the shade wherever possible even if it means crossing the street a few times, having the sun beat down on your head for any period of time will do you no favours.
Don't leave it till ten minutes before you head out the door to start thinking about hydration, instead keep your fluid levels topped up throughout the day (aiming for between 2 and 3 litres depending on your size). Not only will this stop you searching for a bush to run behind but it will also prevent you from feeling bloated and sluggish.
Once your off and running drink little and often, aiming for around 200ml every 20 to thirty minutes.
Running in the heat is hard and it will slow your pace down. This will happen to you, so be prepared, don't get disheartened and plan accordingly both mentally and logistically.
Start gentle running up to 20 to 30 seconds slower per mile for at least the first half of your run and then if you feel strong you can increase the pace later on.
The other important aspect is to make sure you take enough water and nutrition for your slowest possible pace not your dream pace.
Keeping cool before you head out for a run might sound like common sense but it can be really easy to forget. Especially if you have ingrained pre run routines that includes hot food and drink, like eating a small bowl of porridge and a coffee before heading out on your morning run.
Instead stick to chilled food and drinks pre run, keep out of the sun and if you want to take it a step further there are some runners who swear by things like Ice Jackets and cold showers too.