Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Performance problems in the heat

With the British summer now in full swing, well until the rain that is bound to come now that Wimbledon and Glastonbury are upon us, running is becoming a hot, sunny and sweaty affair.

Here is a look at problems running in the summer can course:

Dehydration - the first thing you think about when it gets hotter. Drinking plenty is a fairly obvious solution but a hydration strategy is less obvious and is necessary to make sure you get enough fluids. Think of hydrating as a marathon not a sprint as you need to drink plenty and increase your fluids over a long period not just a short time before your run. My strategies include; drinking a pint of water first thing when you get up, carrying a water bottle with you at all times and eating plenty of water dense fruit and vegetables like cucumber and melon.

Rehydration tip - my quick, cheap and easy tip for staying hydrated or re-hydrating after a run is to make a pint of fairly strong fruit squash and add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar so you can replenish your salts and sugars lost through sweating. Give it a good stir and it works a treat! 

Dehydration can then lead to cramps and stitches as direct negative affects of not getting enough fluids. I am aware of a noticeable increase in cramps while running in the summer compared to the cooler months. Once you develop a cramp while running it can be hard to shift but its a good indicator that you haven't been drinking enough and you need to increase your fluid intake.

Tiredness - I for one feel much more tired in the heat and can often feel pretty drained from being out and about in the sun before I even start running. I try to keep in the shade where possible, dribk plenty and stay cool by drinking icy drinks. The main way I try to increase my energy levels in the heat is by taking glucose tablets to keep my blood sugar levels up and replace what I lose in sweat, these are so easy to pop in your pocket when you are out on a run.

Sweat in the eye - one of the most painful ailments known to man surely!?! Certainly one of my least favorite issues caused by running and can be much more debilitating than it sounds as if you cant see cause your eye is clenched up in pain then you cant see to run! There are no real cures for this other than trying to mop sweat from your head and face before it can run into your eye and being careful not to rub your eyes with sweaty hands.

Sweat - sweat is an inevitable consequence of running in the heat and sun and sweat soaked running kit clinging and sticking to you can quickly become very uncomfortable. These days there are so many materials that are marketed as 'sweat resistant', 'climate control' or 'breathable' that are designed to make running more comfortable. Try out different materials to find what works best for you. My tip is to wear a top that's a little baggier and longer than normal so you have a bit of extra stretch and material to mop sweat from your face to help you feel a bit less sweaty.

Bright sun - when we are lucky enough in Britain to have a bright sunny day we are often so quick to complain about it! I don't want to complain or moan about bright sunny days but some strong sun can cause problems when running by limiting your vision either of whats around you or of your footing below you. Sunglasses and caps are obvious solutions but not everyone, myself included likes running with these but a bit of extra care needs to be taken to avoid running into anything or any trip hazards.

Hayfever - last but by no means least hayfever, sniffly nose, runny nose, swore sinuses, swore throat, head aches, runny eyes are all hayfever symptoms that can then impact upon running. Of course hayfever can be so debilitating it can leave you housebound with a trail run in the countryside the last thing on your mind. Recently I have been struggling with a dry throat that feels coarse and makes you feel you always need to cough and this has been problematic as it has affected my breathing but I am thankful that the affect of hayfever on my running are so mild and I can still run. I suppose the best ways to combat hayfever are to take medication as appropriate and in terms of running avoid rural routes or route containing allergy causing trees, flowers or plants. Running at different times of the day can also be beneficial and with pollen forecasts now being widely available its easy to gauge when hayfever is going to be more of an issue and try to avoid those times and days accordingly. 

Summer is of course the ideal time for running with warmer temperatures, longer evenings and sunnier skies. Whatever the negative factors and problems get out there and make the most of it because after all the British summer never lasts that long!