"Facing the blistering African sun as a runner can be daunting," says Sport Scientist, Chérien Roux. Her personal strategy is to run before 8am in Summer. "The only other time to run is after 6pm which makes it difficult for people who has a full time job and a family."
Here are some of Chérien's tips on how to run your way through the summer.
Many athletes make use of pre-cooling strategies during the summer months. The theory behind it is, to assist your body's thermoregulatory mechanism in response to heat. Pre-cooling allows for the rapid removal of heat (core temperature) before exercising, which allows your body with greater heat storage capacity. When exercising in the heat the body can send up to about 20% of its cardiac output to the skin in order to regulate the bodies temperature (thermoregulation), thus less blood is going to the muscles that are actively used during exercise. Pre-cooling lowers the body's core temperature which allows for less blood to be diverted to the skin and increases blood flow to the muscles. Having more blood being diverted to the muscles allows for greater performance. Pre-cooling strategies can be ingesting cold water or ice slurries before training, wearing cooling vests, applying ice packs and taking ice baths or even just having a swim before training.
During the long hot summer months, our bodies naturally sweat more even when not training and during training an athlete can easily become dehydrated. Always keep water with you when training. I even take a hydration pack along for a 5km run. I try to take a sip of water every 500m to ensure that I remain adequately hydrated, but it is very important to only take a small sip! There are two ways to determine your hydration status. First is to measure your body mass before and after exercise. If you have lost 1g of body mass, it is equal to 1ml of body water. Secondly, is the use of a urine colour chart, of which there are various available online.
Get some more insights into adequate hydration, here.
During the summer it is very important to consider the ideal time of day to run as it can effect your performance. I suggest completing a run in the morning the latest at 8am or in the afternoons to wait until 6pm before starting your run. Running in the heat can also cause heat stroke which why it is important to run when it is cooler. When running in humid conditions your body's sweat will not dry up adequately, which causes how well your body loses heat. The main symptoms of heat stroke are: a fever, nausea and in worse case scenarios shock, multiple organ failure and sepsis.
The one thing that I love about the summer times is the ability to go trail running around places that has a lot of trees. The fresh air, the summer breeze and the green landscape is the perfect escape from the city and everyday life. There are a lot of trail routes around South Africa so get your running shoes on and enjoy the summer. Find some trail inspiration, here.