5 cool tips for running in hot weather

Francisco at Maratón UP 2011

The increase of the fitness culture across Colombia is making the 5K and 10K races more and more attractive. Every few weeks, hundreds of people go to these popular sprints to compete, have fun, or to support a good cause. Unfortunately, many end-up backing out because they have never run more than a block in this weather. If you wish to surf in the running wave under Barranquilla’s sun, here’s 5 tips that will help you prepare for the race and finish it safely and cool.

Maratón UP 2011
The author at Maratón UP 2011

Prepare properly for the challenge
You can run and finish and 10k without having completed such a thing before if you train from eight to ten weeks before the competition. By following a basic routine, you’ll have plenty to show for the participant’s medal that they’ll give you. If you’re training in Barranquilla, you should avoid the hours with the most exposure to the sun, so either wake up early, or try to run when it’s getting darker. If possible, try it in the morning because in the afternoon, stress, traffic, and work will become the best excuses ever for not heading out and training.

Set a schedule and keep it
To simply complete and have painless fun in a 10k race, three days a week for 10 weeks should be enough preparation. But if what you want is to show your friends an awesome score, you’ll want to wear those running shoes during training for five days a week. The ideal way to schedule the weeks is to train every other day to make sure the body gets the rest that it needs. So, for instance, Monday, Wednesday, Friday is a good combination to keep the weekends free. In those days mix the workouts. On day one, you can start with a light training session with a jog-walk rhythm for 5k wherein periods of 1-3 minutes of jogging and then switch to walking, and so on. On the second day try to run, or at least to keep a constant rhythm through the whole session, trying to reach +3k. On the third day, try to reach 5k, and if it is not possible to finish the distance running then switch back to the jog/walk rhythm.

The idea is to increase the kilometers so that you reach 10k on the final training day of the 8th week, without ending up in pain or completely exhausted.

Maratón UP 2011

Get the bag

Running shoes and sports clothes are enough to get you going. You don’t need to spend much money on those sorts of things, but obviously the more you want to invest in fabrics and materials, the more comfortable and dry you’re going to feel. The ideal clothes to wear in hot weather are the ones that cover the most skin – while it might be nice to take a small run on the beach with a swimming suit while getting a tan, if you want to hit 10k in a training session in Barranquilla, it is better to be covered a little more. It’s always better to avoid permanent sun burns. Of course, try to find a material made for the heat – something light that will wick sweat away from your body.

On any parts you haven’t covered, sunblock is a must, and though it might sound weird to put sunscreen on at 5 AM, keep in mind that here in some parts of the year, the sun is coming up at that time. Also, that early in the morning, you’re just beginning the run, so by the time you finish, the sun will have gotten strong. And then people won’t complement your running body but instead will make fun of your tan lines.

Sunglasses and hats are always a good idea. If the heat really bothers you, try putting some ice cubes into a plastic bag under your cap, and that will provide you a cooling sensation for a solid half hour.

Also, while a running partner is a good idea during training to stay constant, keep in mind that during the race you’ll be by yourself, so it’s important to prepare your mind to finish those kilometers without a friend next to you.

Fight the heat with liquids!
Staying hydrated is the key to staying healthy during your training, especially in Barranquilla. It’s important to drink enough water and drinks with electrolytes in them not only during the training sessions, but also before and after. If you’re running in the morning, you should start drinking water the day before. If you’re doing it when the sun is out, you should have at least two more glasses than usual. You should try to drink between half a liter to a liter of fluids for every training hour, dividing them across every 20 minutes. It’s better if you mix water with fluids that help you regain the mineral salts that you’ll lose, so try something with carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium.

Food wise, a balanced and healthy diet is perfect to complete a 10k, and if you’re not eating enough, your body will ask for a bit more, so don’t be surprised if you start feeling more hungry. If you only eat fast food, you should start changing it for fresher meals to gas up better for the race.

Maratón UP 2011

Don’t get desperate, but be careful
Don’t get upset if you can’t finish the first week because of the heat. In most cases, the body only gets used to working out in warm weather after two weeks. Pay attention to your body’s stress signals, and if you feel dizzy, if suddenly you stop sweating, or if you feel lightheaded, immediately take shelter from the sun and drink something cold. Sadly, the heat isn’t something that you can overcome quickly, so listen for those signs. If possible, pick routes with shade, and don’t worry about your progress. Keep in mind that for every 4°C warmer, the record is one-minute slower.

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Fran graduated from Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina in Journalism and Sports Journalism. Before returning to his native Barranquilla, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America. When he’s not busy writing or reporting on a game, he’s probably watching whatever sports news is on TV. He also enjoys dancing, learning new languages and cultures.