Ten ways to make running in warm weather easier

Hydrate in advance and travel light: simple steps can improve summer runs

Summer days have finally arrived after a wet and chilly May.

But despite the enthusiasm we might have to run more in the sunshine, our performance might not match up to our expectations. Running can be humbling for most of us in heat and humidity after a long winter. But there are many things you can do to make it feel better.

1: Give yourself time to adapt

Only a few weeks ago we were complaining about the cold. It will take a little time for us to adapt to the heat. In the meantime, accept that it feels harder, judge your run based on effort rather than the clock and use the time to work out what running clothing and essentials work for you this time of year.

2: Dress for success

In the heat your body has to work overtime to keep cool as well as keep you moving. Give the body one thing fewer to do by wearing clothing that helps keep you cool. Experiment with your running wardrobe and find what is comfortable. Breathable material, light colours and carrying very little with us can really help. Don’t be afraid to choose practicality over fashion.


3: Avoid irritation

We tend to experience more of the inconveniences of blisters and chafing in the heat. Friction from sweat can really cause discomfort, especially if you are planning longer distances this summer. Prepare ahead and apply a layer of Vaseline, medical tape or an anti-chafing cream to the sensitive areas before you go out. Under arm, bra straps (for the ladies), nipples (for the boys), toes and inner thighs are the usual culprits.

4: Protect your skin

Wherever you don’t have a light layer of clothing, make sure you have a layer of sun protection. Choose a waterproof sun cream that doesn’t sweat off easily, remembering that your shoulders and back are really exposed to the sun. Often a loose top layer can feel better than a vest top in this situation. No one wants a summer with a criss-cross sunburn pattern on their back. Light sun hats or visors can really help protect your head and keep the sun off your face too.

5: Outrun the sun

No matter how early you get up these mornings the sun will be up before you but you can really avoid the heat of the day by choosing early mornings or late evenings when the sun isn’t blazing down. Cooler temperatures and the quieter paths at these times will make your journey more comfortable. If these times aren’t an option choose a route that offers shade or a nice breeze. Bearing in mind this is an Irish summer we are talking about, you can expect to run in rain too. Embrace it. Stick to light layers and don’t bother with a raincoat. Consider it a cooling shower on the go.

6: Hydrate in advance

I don’t suggest you down a bottle of water just before you run. In fact, if you can focus on keeping hydrated on the days you don’t run, you will be less in need of water when you exercise. Your body takes time to absorb the fluid you consume so aim to keep hydrated from day to day and you will be less thirsty on the run. In summer running we lose salt, sugar and water on the go. If you are a salty sweater or if you are considering long-distance runs it is worth researching products that help top up these resources on the go.

7: Travel light

If well hydrated, most people don’t need to carry fluids when out for a short, leisurely run. Consider short loops where you leave a drink at your gate to sip on each lap should you need it. You can carry a few euro for an emergency mid-run drink. For safety, most runners like to carry their phone or identification too. Having pockets in your clothing or a running waist belt can free up your hands. In fact, the less you carry the better as you won’t be weighed down or add any tension to one side of your body by gripping your hand.

8: Pack a goodie bag

Prepare in advance all you need for when you finish your run. It might be a drink, a snack, sun cream, a change of clothing or indeed a beach towel if you are lucky enough to be able to finish your summer run with a cool-down dip. If you have healthy snacks and drinks ready at the finish you are most likely to use them rather than forget to refuel. Taking time out to cool down after your run sensibly can be much more appealing in the summer than a cold, wet winter day.

9: Cool down differently

While most runners don’t always have the option of a post-run sea dip, we generally are able to stay outdoors a little longer after our run. Use this time wisely and build in a cool-down routine while you refuel and appreciate the run you have just completed. Now might be the time for a mini yoga session, a stretching routine and even just a few minutes to lie out on the grass and relax. Take a moment in the fresh air to appreciate those post-run endorphins before you move on with your day.

10: Take a chance

Summertime brings new opportunities as we can travel to different places and generally have a little more freedom to explore. Always be ready for a run should you get an offer of a meet-up or find yourself in a new location with a little time on your hands. Keep a set of running gear and some snacks in the car and you never know when you might be tempted to run. Remember, not all runs need to be measured on a watch either. Some of the best running memories you will make this summer will be on impromptu runs and adventures. Go and explore, run free, take walk breaks (or indeed ice-cream breaks) and make the most of this summer of running whatever the Irish weather brings.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
- Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
- 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

- Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with ForgetTheGym.ie. Her summer running programmes for runners of all levels start on July 5th