Dr Jeffrey Aldous, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Bedfordshire, offers his top-tips on how we should deal with high temperatures when running in the heat. We added one from Rosa. 

Exercising in the heat can lead to fatigue and at worse illness and injury. Naturally, given this, it can also affect your performance. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to adapt to the heat. Knowing what they are will ensure that a spell of hot weather does not affect your performance or safety if you choose to exercise during a heat wave.

Whether you are exercising or not, when you are situated within a hot environment, stay hydrated. Consume water regularly (2-3 litre daily).

If you are exercising, you can use a sports drink to replenish your store of carbohydrates and electrolytes, which you lose by sweating.

Reducing the perception of heat

When running in the heat, dousing water around your neck and head can be another good strategy. Rather than reducing core body temperature during your run, this might help to reduce your perception of the heat. This makes you feel cooler and comfortable in the heat.

A heatwave is not the time to try and set your 5 km PB. Exercising in the heat elevates your core body temperature and if you slow down this rise will be less pronounced, allowing you to continue exercising for the full distance or duration in your training schedule.

Rethink the time and distance you would like to cover too, as prolonged periods of time in the heat can be dangerous. “You will go slower for the same effort” adds FR editor Robbie Britton. “So if your session has set paces, adapt them to effort in the heat. There are calculators online to figure out the impact, but equally going off feel is a good practice to hone for hot race days.”

If you can record your body mass, both before and after your exercise. Try to consume 1-1.5 litres of water for every kilogram of body mass lost. When dehydrated your heart will need to work harder as the viscosity (that is the resistance) of your blood goes up, making it more sticky and harder to pump blood around the body.

Try not to exercise during the hottest times of the day (usually the afternoon) and instead exercise when it is cooler such as in the early morning or evening.

Radiant heat gain directly from the sun is at its greatest in the afternoon and lower during the morning or evening periods. This will decrease the physiological strain on your body during exercise.

If your run can’t wait then plan your route. Look for shaded areas where direct heat gain from the sun will be lower. Finding areas where there is a breeze can help remove the sweat beads that appear on your skin and maintain evaporative heat loss. These tips should help you stay safe when exercising this weekend.

Coach Tom Craggs says “whilst it’s important to be sensible and apply these common sense precautions don’t be afraid of the warmer weather. There are a number of positive physiological adaptations that can take place running in warmer weather including an increasing in blood plasma volume.

The key thing is to apply these common sense tips and adaptations but don’t suddenly shift all your running onto a treadmill in an air conditioned gym!”

One extra lesson from Rosa

An extra tip, coming via 1001 Running Tips: the essential runner’s guide author Britton is a simple, but often overlooked bit of advice.

“We were out on a hot day in the mountains a few years back and we kept stopping to regroup. My dog Rosa, ever the wise canine, always trotted on a little further each time and wouldn’t stop with us. It wasn’t until we noticed that she was carrying on to the shade for her break that it dawned on us we’d been stopping in direct sunlight.”

“That might sound a bit obvious, but it’s so common. If you need to take a breather, tie your shoelace or wait for someone to catch up try to do so in the shade and cool down a little.”

Rosa checking out heat maps on Strava.

About the University of Bedfordshire

The University of Bedfordshire is a vibrant and diverse university with 20,000 students from more than 100 countries. It is spread across campuses in Luton, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

It is a forward-looking university with a clear mission to widen access to higher education, nurturing students to become creative self-starters and global citizens with the drive and ambition to make a real difference. The University has made significant progress in recent university league tables, affirmation that its commitment to putting students first and providing a truly transformational student experience is being recognised.