With the temperatures rising, we might ask ourselves if it’s really safe to run outside. While running in hot temperatures is not uncommon in countries such as Ethopia or Kenya, where the average temp. is around 25 degrees, running in the heat isn’t recommended without thorough training.
When running in 30 degrees comes with risks and can be very dangerous, you can suffer from dehydration, overheating (leading to muscle cramps), nausea, tiredness, dizziness or excessive sweating, which can cause exhaustion and a heat stroke. Obviously, your performance won’t be the same as usual and you may find it harder to run at your usual pace or even cover the same distance. So even when you’re barely sweating, your muscles are getting less oxygen and thus are less efficient.
Let’s take a quick chemistry class. When running in the heat, your body’s temperature rises. The ideal body temperature is 37degrees and in order to help cooling the body, you start to sweat, which allows the heat to evaporate. Sweating will cause water loss from the blood which can lead to dehydration.
First of all, listen to your body and take the necessary precautions to avoid getting too hot. Drink enough fluids (staying hydrated is key), wear light and breathable clothing, slow your running pace and avoid running at the hottest times of the day (12pm-4pm). Most important, avoid running outside when the temperature is above 35 degrees and humidity is above 70%. Too much humidity will prevent the process of evaporation of sweat from the skin which will lead to overheating. You may want to switch your running routine program for a pool running session just to be safe.
Keep in mind that when running in a warm country, your body can take up to two weeks before acclimatizing to the temperature. If you’re preparing for a marathon, start gradually and do not overheat yourself. Taking sauna sessions can also help with preparation.
To resume, common sense and a good preparation should prepare you to run safely in hot temperatures.