Summer is coming in HOT which means a change in how we approach our training and racing. Physical activity in hotter temperatures loads the strain on your body and cardiovascular system. As your body temperature rises, your body reacts with increased sweat production, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate.
Heat cramps occur when you lose too much fluid and electrolytes through sweating. This can occur during a run, or hours afterwards.
Learn to manage the heat and you’ll find yourself able to go longer, faster, stronger over the trails during the hotter months. We have an incredible sweat system, but it needs some help to function efficiently.
Try for routes that allow for a mid-run swim or just a dip in a stream. Damns, waterfalls and even the smallest trickles become a trail runner’s best friend in summer.
Sunscreen is a basic necessity. Squeeze a small amount in to a little bank bag and keep that in your pack for reapplication along the way. Go for a loose fit and moisture-wicking materials for both your shirt and shorts to prevent heat from building up under your clothes. Choose light colours. They reflect the sunlight and store less heat. A cap or Buff help in protecting your face and neck from the sun. Go for sunglasses with a UV filter.
Get out early, or after 5pm. In addition to cooler temperatures, you’ll be treated to sunrise or sunset out on the trails. Remember to check humidity levels, too. The higher the humidity the harder it is to cool down, and the more you’ll need to drink.
Overheating is a real danger, so ease in to your summer training with lower intensity workouts. Start early, and know when to stop. If you experience headaches, intense thirst, muscle cramps or dizziness, you should stop immediately, look for shade and drink some water as well as electrolytes. Heat stroke is indicated by confusion or delirium, as well as skin that is red hot and dry (even under armpits).
Happy summer running – don’t skimp on the beautiful mountain sunrise pics!
Words: Kim Stephens