Top 5 Tips for Safe Summer Running
By Doug James – Physiotherapist and Podiatrist at intraining running injury clinic.
The Australian road running season primarily takes places in the cooler months of the year. The key to a successful winter running season is being able to maintain some consistency during the summer months. Sure, you likely won’t (and probably shouldn’t) be logging the same miles or intensity during winter, but summer is a great time to develop a strong base ahead of your first race of the season.
Tip 1: Hydrate
This seems pretty obvious but if you’re finding yourself particularly fatigued, suffer muscle cramping or headache post-run then you may have neglected your hydration. If you don’t run near public drinking taps you should consider carrying water with you on your run. This can take the form of a hydration pack [intraining stock Ultimate Direction and Camelbak packs], but you might prefer a handheld [Ultimate Direction clutch] or belt mounted bottle [Flip belt] on shorter runs, click here.
Proper hydration encompasses more than just water – taking electrolytes around the time of your run can be important especially on days that you are sweating a lot. Maintaining the correct level of electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium) in your body is important for muscle function, bone and blood health. There are a number of electrolyte products at intraining including chews to eat while on the run [Saltstick and Hammer], Nuun hydration tablets are a refreshing way to improve your water, or try the world famous Maurten gels to help supercharge your run, check here.
Weighing yourself before and after running can give you an idea about how much fluid was lost during the run. Also inspect your clothing for dried salt which may indicate you’ve lost a lot of electrolytes during the run. Managing your hydration needs pre, post and during the run can help to maximise running performance and recovery.
Tip 2: Start early
Getting out for a run early in the day usually means cooler temperatures and more enjoyable running. While the prospect of getting up early is not always appealing, running at dawn can be an enlivening experience and can help energise you for the day ahead.
It is important to remember the importance of sleep for your running recovery (less than 7 hours of sleep can result in a 30% greater risk of injury), so plan ahead to make sure you are in bed at least 7-9 hours before you need to be awake. For those that aren’t “morning people” having your running clothes ready (or even sleeping in them) can save you time in the morning. While many of us need a strong coffee to get the morning started, be mindful that caffeine can increase fluid loss which may contribute to dehydration (see Tip 1 ^).
Tip 3: Seek shade
Finding a running route with shade can help summer running feel less stressful. Although Parkrun refuses to adopt a more sensible earlier start time in summer (let’s start a petition #6amSummerStart), there are a number of good parkrun options that include shaded sections such as Kelvin Grove, Wishart, and Bunyaville. Trail runs like Bunyaville can be a great way to add variety and interest to your running, while getting the benefit of cooler temperatures from shady trees.
When you are trail running, stay safe by being prepared with adequate hydration, nutrition and first aid supplies. Trail running has a higher risk of injury, so it pays to do some strength and conditioning work first. See the following post for advice, click here.
Tip 4: Dial back the miles
As mentioned in the intro, your summer running volume and speed will likely be less than during mid-season. Having some downtime at the end of the year can be useful for allowing your body to recover from the prior season.
Summer is a great time of year to incorporate some cross training as it’s ideal weather for swimming or deep water running. Set up good habits in your routine like strength training to help get rid of any niggles and hopefully prevent major injury in the upcoming training year, see strength training for runners here.
Tip 5: Listen to your heart (rate)
Running in the heat puts increased stress on your cardiovascular system. Performing too many sessions at a high heart rate can be counterproductive to your fitness, and may even result in injury through poor recovery or over exertion. Exerting yourself in hot weather increases the likelihood of dehydration which can result in headaches and dizziness through to more severe issues such as heart attack and stroke.
Summer running can be humbling as it often takes more effort to achieve the same speeds during the cooler months. It should be remembered that the aim of most high intensity sessions at this time of year (e.g. intervals, tempo runs) should be based on effort rather than a specific speed. Heart rate monitors which are now available in most GPS watches can serve as a useful guide to manage your training efforts and load, and not just over summer but year-round.
For guidance on your summer running contact the intraining running injury team (who are all qualified running coaches) that can create a customised running and conditioning program to help you prepare for a great year of running in the year ahead.
Doug James – Physiotherapist & Podiatrist
Doug James is a qualified physiotherapist and podiatrist with a special interest in running and sports injuries. He combines the two treatment approaches to achieve successful outcomes for clients of all abilities from non-athletes to elite athletes.
Bachelor of Podiatry (honours), Master of Physiotherapy Studies.
Doug has undertaken further training in dry needling, Pilates, and Rocktape and may incorporate these as necessary during treatment.
Doug is also a keen runner having completed the New York Marathon.