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How to protect yourself from the first of the summer heat ?

Spring and summer tend to be the seasons runners love best. Most take advantage of the warm weather to stay fit, get ready for the upcoming season or increase endurance. When running during the first hot spells of the season, it is essential to protect your body in order to maintain good physical health. Whether you're a novice or an experienced runner, you need to take some key steps in order to avoid direct sunlight and most of all to effectively protect your body. A key point for making effective progress in your annual training programme!


There are certain benefits associated with running in fine weather. The sun, blue sky and blossoming flowers which surround you will increase your motivation and enjoyment, no matter what your goals are. However, it is especially important to be cautious when running in the heat, since this kind of exercise requires your body to make significant changes to adapt to the changing temperatures. Always listen to your body and follow a training plan which takes in consideration your physical abilities and the warm temperatures.


Protecting your body in the spring and summer

Regardless of the weather, when you are running you use muscle energy and therefore increase your overall body temperature. When it's warm or a bit warmer, your body can adapt by cooling itself down through a physiological process called vasodilation. Your blood vessels widen and evaporating perspiration causes your body heat to diminish. These defence mechanisms weaken your body. When it's very hot, your body draws water and minerals directly from the resources you have stored up.

Example: Fifteen minutes of running at a slightly elevated speed raises your body temperature to 38.5 °C. Ventilation and perspiration prevent your body from overheating, but when the air temperature exceeds 28°C, these natural processes are not enough.

Here are some important tips to reduce the loss of bodily fluids, stay in good shape and, most importantly, not take health risks when running in hot weather.


1. Protecting your body from the sun, or maintaining a stable body temperature

Schedule your training early in the morning or in the evening

When it's really hot outside, change the time you go running so you are not subjected to the heat too often. Choose shaded paths and don't run on the asphalt, since it absorbs a lot of heat.


Slow down

Prolonged exercise raises your body temperature and causes you to get tired quickly. The best training sessions are the ones you can easily recover from. If you're completely exhausted after a run, you need to reduce your pace and decrease the length of your run.


Drink enough to avoid dehydration

No matter what the temperature is, it is important to drink regularly and never wait until you are thirsty to hydrate. Don't wait until you feel thirsty, since a feeling of thirst indicates the beginning of dehydration. However, in hot weather, runners must pay particular attention to anticipate these hydration requirements well in advance. Drinking enough liquids before your run will help you avoid a variety of unpleasant physical sensations like cramps, sprains and pulled muscles.

Advice: Hydrate your body well a few hours before your run and drink small sips of water while exercising and every time you take a break. After your run, drink beverages which contain minerals in order to replenish the mineral salts lost as you sweat.


2. Protecting your body from the heat or how to prevent overheating

Use proper gear for warm-weather running.

Spring and summer running apparel are specially designed and tested to keep your body cool enough during your run. These products are made to promote heat transfer between your skin and the outside air. Technical running apparel channels heat away from your body, helping you perspire and making it easier for sweat to evaporate.

Running shoes have excellent ventilation which limits perspiration thanks to breathable mesh on top of the foot (a special kind of upper). In warm weather, it is important to wear high-tech socks which are designed especially for running and are thin and breathable.


Protect your head and eyes.

Here's some important, basic advice: never run in the sun without a cap. By protecting your head, you will absorb less heat and protect yourself from UV rays. In the winter, it is important to cover your head to maintain your internal body temperature and stay warm. The opposite is true in the summer, when a cap will maintain your body temperature and keep you from overheating. Sunglasses are a vital accessory which will protect your eyes from UVB and UVA rays.


Protect your skin with waterproof sunscreen

Protect the skin on your face, arms and legs by applying waterproof sunscreen with a high sun protection factor. When you sweat, the waterproof sunscreen will allow you to stay protected throughout your training run.


Regularly moisten your clothing, head, arms and legs

By wetting your clothes and some parts of your body during your run, you help dissipate body heat and actively cool down your body.


Namely: After training in warm weather, let your body cool down slowly to improve your recovery. Drink enough liquids, breathe deeply and wait until you are no longer sweating before getting in the shower.


Running in warm weather: A special kind of protection for a special kind of pleasure!