Blue skies, dry and dusty trails and stopping to take in the views and the creeks (by which we mean: sit in the creeks). Summer running is here.
The earlier, the better
Longer days means that the world is yours for the taking as early as you can handle the alarm clock going off… It’s light and warm outside before work, and the feeling of getting your run in before the heat and the start of your day is well worth it. And if you're in Brisbane, our Bardon store is open from 7:30am, serving coffee on the deck to celebrate your successful early morning adventures.
If you can, choose to run amongst the trees to offer some shade, or plan to finish your long run somewhere you can swim. We’ve found getting submerged is the fastest way to cool down after a big effort on the trails.
The right gear helps
When the temperature’s up, one way to stay cool is to shift into wearing lighter weight clothing. High performance technical wear is designed to help you shed sweat faster, and allows evaporation to cool you down. Look for products with perforations, or mesh sections, fabrics which are thinner or lighter. Think about whether you need sunscreen if you’re ditching the shoulder coverage.
Switching your t-shirt for a singlet is an obvious choice, but switching black, or darker coloured clothing for white or light colours can help reflect the sun and in turn reduce the absorption of heat though your clothes. And carry a bit of personal body lube if you’re running long with a pack for the first time in case the straps start to rub your shoulders or collar bones.
“There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”
Shading your head isn’t only sun smart, it’s essential to beat the heat. Technical caps and hats now widely available, from brands like Ciele Athletics and Fractel, so you don’t have to sweat buckets, you can just wear one. Or a legionnaire’s cap to shade your ears and neck too. Performance doesn’t have to compromise style either, with literally dozens of styles and colours to choose from, and trail running sunnies to match, of course.
With hot, dry weather, trails become harder and can demand a tougher shoe, or start to wear a softer outsole material faster. If you usually run in a shoe with bigger lugs designed for mud, it may be worth trying a trail running shoe more suited to drier trails.
Having a couple of pairs of trail shoes in your rotation to handle different surfaces and weather conditions can save you from over-wearing the soles and mean you’ll have the grip you need for the trails you’re running.
Hydration, hydration, hydration
During the hotter months, you’re likely to sweat more while running as your body tries to keep you cool.
It’s not just water that you’re losing either – ever noticed that salty crust on your forehead or in your clothes after a hot run? Those salts are essential electrolytes that your body needs to function properly. Electrolytes help to keep your body in balance;.they regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate your body, and balance blood pH. If you’re losing electrolytes quickly through exertion, you need to put them back in and the easiest way is by drinking them.
Experiment with a few different sports nutrition products that contain electrolytes, as different brands contain different quantities of electrolytes than others. For instance, Tailwind contains 2x the amount of sodium than Pure, and Precision Hydration offers three levels of sodium in their electrolyte drink mix. Some runners need the extra salt, while others don’t.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty, you can get a laboratory sweat test, alternatively you can weigh yourself before and after your run to get an idea of how much water you've lost. Whatever the outcome, we recommend you experiment with a few different hydration products until you find a balance that works for you.
Single serve or stick packs are a great way to try a new product without having to commit to a big bag until you know it works for you.
“Signs of dehydration while you’re running are:
thirst, headache, increased heart rate, fatigue, losing the need to pee / or darker than usual urine, decreased performance.
None of which are awesome.”
The Trail Co.
A running pack or a running belt are excellent for trail running in summer for carrying water bottles, along with any extra items like anti-chafe balm, food, or sunscreen. They're designed specifically for trail running, and come in a variety of sizes and volumes to suit carrying everyday items, all the way up to mandatory gear for 100-mile ultra-marathons.
General advice is to carry more fluid than you need, just in case a flask leaks or your run takes longer than expected. (A friend to the store once took a wrong turn and turned their 5 hour run into a 9 hour run. (see: Leland's Corner).
And while electrolyte and fuel-filled drinks are great, it can be useful to have one bottle with plain water in to freshed your tastebuds or hose your face down.
Ice, ice, baby
If you’re racing in summer the heat, event organisers sometimes provide ice at check points or aid stations. When it’s really hot, this can be a lifesaver and help you cool your core down fast. Shoving a few handfuls of ice under your running hat or into your hydration vest pockets will help to cool your core temperature down, and as the ice melts, evaporation will take further heat away from your skin. Just getting wet can help too.
You can also freeze bottles before a run and let them cool you from your hydration vest while they melt on a long run. We’d suggest at least one of your bottles has ready-to-drink fluid in it, so you’re not standing around waiting for your bottles to thaw!
Insulated flasks and sleeves for hydration bladders will also slow your body from warming up any cool liquid you’re carrying in your pack.
Nothing rubs us up the wrong way more than chafe while we’re running. Our expert advice: prevention is the best cure!
When you sweat more, the buildup of heat and salt on your skin happens faster, and we find the best way to prevent chafe is to use an anti-chafe lubricant like Body Glide or Squirrels Nut Butter to stop it in the first place. How much, how, and where you apply is a personal choice.
Apply generously before your run, and carry a smaller tube or pot of lube in a pocket or your pack on longer runs. They never go unappreciated when you find yourself starting to chafe during a long run or race.
Pack a towel, or invest in a set of seat covers if you’re going home in the car. Even if you don’t swim, they’re great for protecting your seats when you’re swimming in sweat.
And it’s never too early to start your recovery ritual. Take in some fluids, possibly with electrolytes and protein to kick-start your recovery as soon as you’re done running. Tailwind Recovery is really popular product with our staff and customers, as it’s a quick way to start replacing lost electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein by mixing a couple of scoops in water. (Yes, even runners need protein).
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