Sometime soon it will be summer – but it seems that the warm weather has already arrived this week! After the long cold winter, the summer will be a welcome change.
But what does it mean for your running?
Summer brings longer days which means more opportunity to be out there in daylight.
More predictable weather means you can plan your running sessions better – no more excuses to stay in bed when you hear rain outside!
Physiologically running does place an extra burden upon your body. Running on a 35 degree day is harder for your body to manage than running on a 15 degree day.
This may sound obvious – but why is that?
When you run, you generate heat in your muscles. You dissipate the heat of exercise through your skin. How do you do that? You heart pumps blood to your skin so that the heat can escape from your body. Think of the red face you get when you exercise – that’s heat dissipation in action.
And of course you sweat – losing fluid as evaporation to cool the skin.
In cold weather you’ll lose this heat into the environment pretty quickly but in warmer weather this exchange of heat is less efficient.
So on hot days you heart will work harder to pump blood to the skin just to lose heat. Your heart rate when you exercise in hot weather is therefore higher than exercising at the same level of intensity in colder weather.
While your heart is busy doing losing heat, it’s also trying to service the energy demands of the working muscles as you exercise.
And because your heart is busy trying to lose heat by pumping blood to the skin there’s less blood available to service your working muscles. So exercising in hot weather is more demanding and harder than it is in colder weather and you’ll naturally be a bit slower.
The good news is that your body adapt pretty quickly. Over just a few weeks your body physiologically adapts to deal with warmer weather. And as well as the physical changes you’ll simply just get used to dealing with it.
At the beginning of summer a run on a 28 degree day may feel like a hard hot workout. In the middle of summer a 28 degree run will be much more manageable for you and may even be a cool day if you’ve become used to running when the weather is in the 30s’.
As well as waiting for your body to adapt to the heat there are a few steps you can take to deal with the heat. Stay out of direct sunlight when ever possible, run early in the morning before the sun comes up – evening runs are also good but are usually warmer than morning runs.
Try to avoid running on the very hot / very windy days when the effect of heat will be greatest. Where possible, pick a run with lots of shade – around the River Torrens – on the trails in the hills (beware fire danger days) – or where there are lots of trees, like the parklands.
Carry water or pick a route where you know there are sources of water such as water fountains and if there aren’t any of those then petrol stations usually have a water tap somewhere on the forecourt.
Dress appropriately, balance the need to cover up and prevent skin damage with the need to let the heat escape. Pick thinner fabrics that will wick sweat out and allow air-flow. Visors rather than caps are more effective for summer running (if you have hair!)
And of course follow the sun smart message to prevent skin damage.
Enjoy your summer of running!