The UK is in the middle of a heatwave that feels like it might never end: in fact temperatures have got so high the Met Office has issued an amber “heat health watch warning” for parts of England this week.
They urge the public to stay out of the sun altogether or at least avoid being out when it is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm. But what about if you’re trying to keep up an exercise routine?
When it’s just a couple of days you can justify going to the pub instead but after weeks of soaring temperatures, we don’t want to ditch our fitness plan entirely.
The NHS says people who are physically active or doing sports are more vulnerable in a heatwave: susceptible to dehydration and heatstroke. So it is important to bear this in mind if you plan on going running outside.
Laura Fountain, running coach and PT, tells HuffPost UK, that for days when you are really concerned about the heat it is good to have a gym membership to fall back on, especially as there are low cost options that offer no contract (like fitness4less and the gym group). And are likely to have air conditioning.
She also suggests cross training or cycling as an alternative: especially as cycling will let you get outside and enjoy the weather but feels cooler because of the breeze from moving faster. Swimming is another good option.
However if you have your heart set on running outside, then you should make sure you consider the following adjustments to your normal routine.
“Forget the pace on your watch,” says Fountain. “You may be running slower than your usual pace but that’s fine. It’s OK to stop to take walk breaks too.”
It is particularly important to pay attention to your heart rate. “You don’t necessarily need a heart rate monitor. You’ll know when you’re working hard and should slow down or stop if you feel it racing,” she explains.
What about timing? Instead of setting out straight after work to run home, maybe leave the run till much later in the evening when it is cooler. If this can’t be avoided, then plan your route to take in shaded areas.
“Parks are great because of the tree coverage but even in urban areas, the buildings will cast shade if you avoid midday and run on the correct side of the road for the time of day,” says Fountain.
And is it better to reduce the frequency of your runs or the distance you cover? “I wouldn’t reduce the frequency of my runs but possibly the distance. You can also split the distance across the day. So if you usually do 6 miles on a Wednesday, try 3 in the morning and 3 in the evening,” says Fountain.
And ensure you have plenty of water with you, and if you run out on the way, Fountain says that a lot of shops or cafes now will top up a water bottle for you., “I’ve stopped at pubs on long runs for a glass of tap water,” she says.