This is timely, given that this past week in Adelaide we have had something of a mini heatwave, not to mention my recent trip to Brisbane!
Here are a few ways I deal with running in the hot weather.
If it’s one isolated hot day, it’s probably feasible to take the day off. And if you’re not training for something big, you could also take the day off.
Do something else.
Swimming is a great option on a hot day (although if outdoors during the day, you will still need sun protection). I was right into swimming last summer but it’s not happening for me this summer – I don’t actually enjoy it, and I need to get into the habit. Plus I really don’t like indoor pools, and the outdoor pools are all closed during winter, making it hard to keep the routine going. And I don’t really fancy swimming in the lake or the sea, although if I am ever going to get a triathlon under my belt I guess I’m going to have to do it sometime…
There is also gym cardio such as a spin class or just riding the exercise bike. I think you’d probably sweat just as much in a spin class than in a hot run though…
This is my preferred option. My weekday runs are all at that wonderful time of day – ‘arse o’clock’. It can be very difficult getting up on the cold winter mornings but in summer, in my opinion, this is the BEST time to run. It is usually the coolest time of day (although when the overnight minimum is 300C, ‘cool’ is a relative term) and you generally don’t have to worry about sun protection (unless you live in Queensland where there is no daylight saving and therefore it is effectively an hour later). Actually, I think arse o’clock is the ONLY time to run if you’re in Queensland in summer! And of course after a morning run you can have coffee and then go start the day, knowing that when you finish work you don’t have to somehow find the time and energy for a run!
On occasions, usually on weekends, I have done my long runs in the evening – again to avoid the hottest part of the day. I try to finish before it gets dark, otherwise I’d have to carry a head torch. And, if you’re in the right place you might even get to see an awesome sunset!
Go somewhere cooler.
I do most of my long road runs along the coast where there is a breeze (and proximity to the ocean for a post-run cool-off dip!) and it is usually a few degrees cooler. I almost always have to contend with a head wind in one direction, but to me it’s worth all the benefits! Plus there are usually plenty of good cafes along the coast, as well as frequent water fountains. You could also hit the trails/forests where there is a bit more shade.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
In the hot weather I always carry a drink, either water or sports drink, on my morning runs. The only exception would be for parkrun (because it’s a shorter run). I would also make an exception for races of 10k or less, but there don’t tend to be many of those during the summer! For my long runs I will always use a hydration vest with sports drink in the bottles (I am currently not using a bladder as mine started leaking and I haven’t gotten around to buying a new one, but I find that for the longest marathon training run of 36km, just the bottles are enough). Running somewhere with plenty of water taps allows me to top up my bottles if needed (I’ll bring extra powder to make up some more sports drink) without having to carry any excess weight.
If you’re happy to run just with water, you might find that if you pick your route appropriately, you might be able to get away with just using water taps. I prefer to carry, because it minimises stops, and sometimes the water taps aren’t working (or the water out of them tastes like arse!)
Wear the right gear!
Especially on the long runs where I would wear a hydration vest, I need to make sure I wear clothing that breathes. Cotton is bad (most runners would know that already). I like a top with mesh especially on the back, to allow sweat to evaporate (although with a hydration vest on, it really has nowhere to go and you probably will still end your run looking like you just went in the shower fully clothed!) You also want to make sure you have the right socks, because if they get wet, cotton socks won’t dry and that’s a recipe for blisters!
Plan your events.
As I said earlier, there don’t tend to be many big running events (in particular road events) during the Australian summer. However, if you are training for a marathon in April (when the Australian marathon season starts) you are going to have to be training through the summer, and that includes long runs. So if you really can’t deal with the heat, think about picking a marathon in July or August, so you can train through the cooler months (which of course, has its own challenges!)
Oh and then there is this. Bit extreme I know (especially for the ladies out there) but it is certainly a great way to keep cool!
(You might notice ‘run on a treadmill’ is not listed here – it might be an option for some, but personally I’d rather go outside and melt in the heat than run on one of those things!)
Do you have any tips to share?