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  • Writer's pictureTom

Don't be afraid of running in the heat

I used to dread the summer, particularly the heatwaves that seem to hit London most years. I have got up at ungodly hours in an attempt to 'beat the heat'.

However if handled carefully, running in the heat doesn't need to be feared, and can in fact be an aid to performance. I recall a hot UK summer where I logged consistent time running, capped with two weeks in even hotter Italy where I maintained my training, despite also not shying away from a daily ice cream and wine in the evening. I had several races booked in shortly upon returning which I'd dismissed as potential fast efforts due to being on holiday. However in slightly cooler temperatures I was astonished by how fit I felt, and how effortless it was to run in comparison to what I had been used to over the summer.

Studies show that running in the heat can have a similar impact to altitude training, whereby your blood plasma is increased, and with it the enhanced ability to transfer oxygen to your muscles. In other words, energy which can keep you in the game longer.

Of course, caution is required here. There is no need to run with the same effort that you would put in during normal temperatures. If it's an easy run, then make it even easier. If it's a workout, then drop your paces a notch. Racing is a whole other issue, as your goal here will be to make it to the end in the fastest time possible, which unless you're very heat adapted, will mean pacing your race more conservatively in order not to blow up before the finish line.

Make sure you are hydrated when you set out for your run, wear a cap, apply sunscreen, and always bring a bottle of water with you, or at least be aware of where you can source water from while out. And then when you get back home, rehydrate copiously.

Is running shirtless permitted? The etiquette of this is a can of worms I will leave others to deal with.

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