The skies are blue and the sun is shining, and suddenly putting on your leggings and a running t-shirt – or, dare we say it, a pair of shorts and a vest? – seems a lot more appealing than it did back in the winter.
But once you’re out there, things feel a bit – well, sluggish. You’re hot, bothered and more than a little bit disappointed with yourself. You find yourself thinking you should have stayed at home and fired up the BBQ – or headed for the beer garden. Where did it all go wrong?!
Summer running is a fine art, and one that we’re here to help with. Let’s hear it for our top five tips for getting the most out of your summertime runs.
Water, water everywhere
When you’re exercising in warmer months, it’s really important to get hydration right. And water is *fine*, but if you’re working up a proper sweat, you might want to try an isotonic sports drinks.
Isotonic drinks contain electrolytes which, in turn, increase your water absorption rate. Plus they replace the electrolytes you lose when you sweat (hey, we’re only human – it’s just a sign you’re working hard).
Don’t chug too much, though – drinking too much, too quickly can dilute the sodium levels in your body. This can cause a whole range of unpleasant symptoms including dizziness, fatigue and nausea – the last thing you want when you’re exercising.
Current guidelines suggest drinking between 300ml and 800ml before heading out for a run. Replacing fluids afterwards is important too – but again, be careful not to overdo it. Pay attention to your body’s signs – if your urine is dark or you’re headachey, it’s possible you need to drink some more.
The right kit
The right kit won’t just make you look good: it’ll also keep you cool and allow you to move freely. So what should you be slipping into for your summer runs?
For vests and t-shirts, look for a good fit and a light, breathable fabric – moisture-wicking fabric will whisk wetness away from your skin and keep you feeling fresh. The more you run, the pickier you’ll find yourself getting about your kit – and you’ll find that features like narrow backs and mesh panels can actually make a big difference in hot weather.
On your bottom half, compression or cycling shorts offer a tighter fit – and, potentially, less chafing. 2-in-1 shorts offer extra coverage – a tight bottom layer and a looser layer over the top – and 80s-style split shorts allow your legs to keep going without any restrictions.
Mix up your terrain
Of course, it isn’t just about what you wear in the summer – it’s also about where you go. Those muddy routes you’ve been avoiding all winter? Well, they’ll have just about dried up – so head out without fear of slipping or sliding.
In need of some cover on sunny days? Make for the woods, park or anywhere where trees can offer a bit of extra protection. Or after a cool breeze? Well then, try the coast. Beach running is tough, with some studies suggesting it takes 1.5 times more energy than running on a standard road surface, but it’ll pay dividends if you’re training for a big race.
Timing is everything
During the winter months, you probably found that your window of opportunity for running was shorter, with dark mornings and evenings drawing in early. In the summer, though, you’ve got daylight on your side.
Morning run? No problem! Evening run? Even better! Just remember to be flexible: you probably want to avoid long or tough routes on particularly hot days. Plan ahead, but be flexible – your body will thank you for it.
And don’t forget the suncream
In the words of Baz Luhrmann, “If I could offer you one tip for the future, sun cream would be it” – and here at Great Run Company, we feel the same.
If you’re in training for a big event, you’re probably spending hours and hours outdoors in the sunshine – and those hours of exposure add up.
Make sure your sun cream is stored in a cool place, is still in date and is a high enough factor – the NHS recommends using at least factor 30. Look out for a product that’s sweat-resistant – and slap on a cap for good measure. You’re all set!