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For the runner in you, staying active in the summer

When to run‐ During hot summer months the best case scenario for running is by far the early morning hours. The am hours are cooler in temperature, and have less indirect heat build‐up form the sun, prohibiting core temperature rise due to hot weather. Heat build-up during the day creates a hot environment and surrounding elements – asphalt, buildings etc that is difficult to lower temperature fast. The accumulated heat needs many hours with no sunlight – (direct heat) and lower temps to drop those degrees C.

How long to run – this is definitely not the time to increase km and not the time to boost your volume in training. Unless you have a big running event coming up in September or early October this period is to barely stay active and to maintain some fitness. It is expected that fitness levels will drop in these hot summer months‐ as a product of your down‐ time in the annual training cycle. So if you were running i.e 3 times per week from 8‐10km each time, now is the time to reduce further to 1‐2 times per week with less km i.e. 5‐6 km each time. However this is something purely case by case and not to be written on stone.

How hard should you run – The intensity in hot weather needs to be even lighter with a close monitoring on (RPE) rate of perceived exertion, for those who do not use a heart rate monitor. For those who are advanced enough to monitor pulse rate the aim will be to keep low and steady in terms of % of max effort during a session, prohibiting a rapid climb of pulse in beats per minute. During hot weather, pulse, will be greater circulating the blood around, trying to cool the extremities further, therefore depicting a higher bpm indication.
What to wear – light fitting clothes with white or close to white colored clothes is advisable to redirect sun rays away from your body. Dri ‐fit, or cool ‐max or non‐cotton garments which wick moisture away from skin and out to promote evaporation are the choice for active people. A hat and sunglasses are keeping sun‐rays away from sensitive body parts. A sunblock is advisable and for light colored skin athletes a necessity before stepping out the door.

Where to run ‐ If the possibility exists to run in forests, or paths that have dense plants and trees surrounding those areas, then look no further. Open lands that have some or zero coverage from above, will stress the cardiovascular system of the runner further, so if you can choose between the two always select the dense forested areas, or mountains. However mountains might have the element of altitude climbing, and up or down running will build up intensity further so do take care of pulse rate.

Hydration status – the rule of thumb to ensure correct hydration is the color of your urine. The almost transparent or white colored urine is the indication that you are eu‐hydrated. Bronze or dark brown colored urine is an immediate danger, so better start the intake of cold electrolyte drinks. The hotter the weather the greater the intake of cold drinks to keep body cool and hydrated. If going long (which is apparently a risky combination with hot weather) the need for more frequent electrolyte /carbohydrate drinks (via tablets diluted in H2o) to be ingested is paramount. If the thirst mechanism has kicked it, then you are very late and in a bad situation since the signal from the brain to take in fluids is always late. So in hot weather always drink in advance‐ preferably low kcal fluids.

Alternative training – During hot weather a selection of alternative activities for you might be advisable. If you only run, try cycling‐ the cooling evaporation of sweat due to a faster moving speed is a good idea. If only cycling try swimming, and if only lifting weights, try SUP (stand –up paddle). The alternative list is long and those are just recommendations. Just mix it up!

Should you consider time off ‐ Hot summer months are for most active people living in the hot climate countries, the period to take off, rest & regenerate. “Engines running” throughout the year with limited or no time‐ off, risk the danger of burnout. Careful planning of activities and running km on a yearly basis is the way to go to ensure that you do allow recovery time and a fresh mental and physical attitude.

Kypros Nicolaou, holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology, a B.Sc. Degree in Sports & Fitness Management, both from the University of Alabama, is an ACSM Certified Fitness Instructor, and is a holder of an ITU Level II Certification as a Triathlon Coach. In addition to that, KN delivers coaching advice and Strength & Conditioning at 3dfts (f/3dfts) to a number of endurance athletes, and athletes of “life”.

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