Ten Tips for Summer Running: Staying Safe in the Heat  

The cold winter (and spring!) is over and summer is here. The sunny weather is perfect for running but with the wild swings in our climate, your body needs a little help to adjust. Successful summer running means being cognizant of the temperature and of your own limits. A little common sense goes a long way towards making sure summer running stays enjoyable.

Here are some tips to make the most of summer running and avoid the problems:

  1. Take it easy and ramp your way up into the heat. Acclimatizing yourself to the heat safely can take 10 days to two weeks. When the hot weather first hits, give yourself that two week period where you keep your exposure to midday heat to 30 minutes or less and slow down the pace a little.

  2. Start your run slower and ramp it up after about the first ten minutes.  Our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists are available to give you advice on how to switch up your training for hot weather conditions.

  3. Run early in the day – early morning is usually the coolest time, when the air is freshest.

  4. Running near water can also give you cooler temperatures and pleasant breezes even when it's muggy elsewhere.

  5. Hydrate more than you think you will need – 8 ounces of water an hour is a good guideline to begin with. Add more as the mercury climbs higher. If you are running more than 4 km then you should plan on either bringing something to drink with you or organizing a pit stop along the way. Remember to drink before and after your run as well as during.

  6. Dehydration can cause feelings of faintness or lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting. Luckily it's easy to fix. The best drinks to hydrate include water and herbal teas – not caffeinated beverages that can actually help you dehydrate faster. After the first hour, you will start to lose electrolytes (salts) as well as hydration, so you should switch from plain water to a sports drink.

  7. Gear – keep your running gear lightweight, light coloured and loose. There are many newer fabrics designed for sports that will give you sun protection and help keep you drier. Your head cover should also be light and loose fitting.

  8. Wear plenty of sunscreen. It can even help keep your skin temperature cooler as it protects from the sun's damaging rays.

  9. Know the signs of heat stroke and STOP running when you begin to feel them. Cool down immediately – ducking into an air conditioned area can help a great deal. Symptoms include:

◦     Headache or intense heat buildup in the head.

◦     Confusion, inability to concentrate.

◦     Sweating profusely, followed by clammy skin and then sweating abruptly stops.

◦     Hot and cold flashes.

◦     Upset stomach, muscle cramps, vomiting, dizziness.

10. Check the air quality index and any heat warnings. If the air quality index is code orange (5-6,) it's an indication to be cautious, especially if you have respiratory issues. If it is code red (7 or higher,) you should not be running outside. Ask your Ottawa sports medicine specialist about how the air quality index can affect your condition.

The Good News

Heat training can actually end up benefiting your whole running game. Studies with professional athletes have found up to a 5% increase in performance levels after less than two weeks of hot weather training.

Our Ottawa physiotherapy specialists and other sports medicine professionals can give you customized advice for your summer running routine and other helpful information. Give us a call today. 




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