15th June 2017. As far as seasons go, spring is one of the best ones for running. Unfortunately, it doesn't last forever. When the spring starts to turn into the summer, runners need to take note. With hotter temperatures, the changing conditions demand a change in your habits, too. Summer is also the time when we most often go on holiday ? so how will you stick to your usual running habits when you go away from home? It's not all about challenges, though; the summer brings some good news for runners, too. Tired of going on your daily run in the dark, or not having enough daylight at the end of the day? The lengthening days of summer will help with that. How should you prepare your body to face the challenges of summer running? From acclimatising to planning around potential disruptions to your schedule, there are many things you can try. You'll also want to take the time to learn about the heat index and how to work around the weather. Grab your water bottle, it's time to get ready for the year's next big set of seasonal challenges. Before you know it, the crisp air of autumn will be here again.
Beat the heat: how to handle the hotter weather
How can you adjust yourself to the warm weather? When you notice the temperatures start to rise, it's hard to do more than continue with your usual pattern. It's only when the thermometer consistently registers higher temperatures that you need to think carefully. Once summer arrives in full and it becomes difficult to run at your usual effort, pick a day to begin your conditioning. Perform your normal run on this day, but do so at about 75% of your usual effort level. Go lower if it helps you feel more comfortable. Then, over the next one to two weeks, slowly ramp back up to your usual pace. The slow change inherent in this strategy will let your body adjust to the heat. You'll need the time to adjust. When the humidity is high, and sweat won't evaporate, the feeling alone can make you want to quit. Speaking of sweat, it's a no-brainer that you'll dehydrate much more rapidly in this weather. Try to drink small quantities of water throughout the day. As always, stay away from sugary drinks. When it is extremely hot out, you should bring water along on your run, too. It's easier to keep your thirst quenched, and you can avoid the problematic symptoms of dehydration. When possible, choose routes that have more shade and keep you out of direct sunlight. Careful route choices can make the heat more bearable.
Going on holiday? You don't have to stop running
What about the times when you're away from home? When we finally have a week or two in the summer to escape from the daily grind, we often travel. That means unfamiliar territory away from your usual running routes ? and not much desire to take time away from relaxing, either. Who says that running on holiday can't be fun? Consider using a running app or searching online for popular routes or trails local to the area you'll visit. Stick to safe, populated areas where there will be plenty of other people but not too much traffic. Try going out for a run early in the morning. That way, you can hop in the shower to start your day when you return. What if that isn't an option? Many hotels offer exercise rooms free for use by their visitors. Hopping on the treadmill for thirty minutes to an hour in the morning or evening is a fine way to stay active. It's easier to beat the heat on a treadmill, too. Though it doesn't offer all the same advantages of outdoor running, it's a good substitute for those on holiday. What's important is sticking with your plan. Otherwise, when you return home, you'll find it is much harder to return to running in the heat.
Making the most of longer summer days
As the summer stretches on, the amount of daylight increases. Soon, the sun sets several hours later than it does during the winter, which has both its pros and cons. On the one hand, it means there is more time when the temperature will be high and unpleasant for running. On the other, it provides you with additional opportunities to refine your fitness. Consider one scenario. Let's say you choose to run early in the morning, both because the temperature is cooler and you have the time. Normally, that might be the end of it for the day; by the time you get home, the sun is already on its way down. In the summer that doesn't have to be the case. Have you considered going for a second run early in the evening? This second run could be a simple jog, and not a full effort run. Why do this? It allows you to spend more time conditioning your body and working on your cardio health. If you avoid overdoing it, you'll find it can help prepare you for the next day's run. Plus, it burns calories and will contribute to a sound night of sleep. Those positive aspects make it worth consideration.
When is it too hot to run?
Sometimes, the summer heat presents more than just a challenge ? it can be a danger. Understanding when it is simply too hot outside for exercise can help you avoid a dangerous situation. Looking at the daily heat index before you go outside is a good idea. What is the heat index? If you've ever seen a weather app tell you both the temperature and what it "feels like" outside, that is a reflection of the heat index. It?s a measurement that combines both the actual air temperature with the relative humidity. Now you can develop a better sense of how your body will react to the weather. For example, if the temperature outside is 32 Celsius and the humidity is at 70%, the heat index is 40C. In other words, you'll feel like it's almost ten degrees hotter out than you might think. Fourty is the level at which the heat becomes dangerous. If the heat index is higher than 40C, you might want to consider a trip to the gym instead. In some places, it's possible for the heat index to top 50C. No amount of hydration will keep you comfortable running in that type of weather. It's best to explore alternate options on days when you can't safely run.
Know when it's time to take a break
Sometimes, it might seem okay to go running even when it's very warm outside. Even if the heat index isn't at a dangerous level, you must still know when it's time to stop and rest. Heat exhaustion, or more seriously, heat stroke, can and does happen to many runners every summer. What are the signs that say it's time to stop and go indoors? Watch out for the classic physical symptoms signalling you've pushed a little too hard. Heat exhaustion is easy to spot ? your skin becomes very pale, and you may feel very tired. Dizziness or a headache may set in as well. Vomiting is also a common symptom. Move to a cool place immediately and sip water slowly. Heat stroke is much more serious and can occur if you continue exercising when you feel ill. However, you should always stop when you feel unwell. Don't worry ? there is always another day perfect for running on the horizon.
Summer is coming ? are you ready?
No one truly enjoys running in the sweltering heat. Even so, you can't let the summer get the best of you when it comes to your fitness. By acclimating, hydrating, and knowing when to avoid the outdoors, you can make it through this season without losing your gains. In fact, you might even see improvements with hard work. Making the switch to running indoors, as you might on holiday, is also a valid way to keep up your training pace. However, you choose to approach the challenges of summer; you'll develop skills you can use all year round. Follow @SportNessUK