Get ready for your summer of running in the stifling UAE heat…
It’s that time of year again and it comes around all too quick, leaving many runners just dreaming of the winter months.
Nevertheless, there are a few ways to combat the extreme UAE summer heat and continue running. I am preparing for my third consecutive summer running during the hottest period of the year and have embraced the experience. Yes, I am mad. But, at the same time, I have built up a high tolerance threshold to be able to maintain the bulk of my running workload.
The following tips and first-person advice from experience factor in how to make your running as safe as possible during these months, and of course, not comprise any risk health risk.
Here we go…
WHEN SHOULD I RUN?
For all you early risers out there, especially at the weekend, aim to hit the roads between 5-6am. That’ll mean you’ll take in the sunrise (around 7am) but get some quality running time in before it gets too hot. At the other end of the spectrum, in the evenings, it is of course very humid but a great time to work up a sweat from 8pm onwards.
Unless you are a really experienced and conditioned runner used to heat, I would avoid running during the day time – especially between 11am and 3pm.
It’s taken me years to acclimatize to running in extreme heat and is not something you should take lightly. I would strongly recommend not going out for a big run in hot conditions if you’re not used to it, instead, it is vital you start slowly with smaller workouts and build up your tolerance to the heat.
And, if you do just this, you will start to improve and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Moreover, heat training can have almost equivalent effects to that of altitude training.
It’s also worth noting that during the upcoming period of Ramadan, you should adjust your run schedule and programme accordingly.
WHAT DO I WEAR WHEN IT’S SO HOT?
Wear bright coloured clothing to deflect the sunlight (darker clothing absorbs the heat and makes you sweat more) and also make sure you have a loose-fitted running vest or t-shirt. At the end of the day, this all comes down to personal preference but the main thing is to make sure you feel comfortable. It is also worth wearing a cap to shield your head from the sun and a headband, along with a sweatband on your wrist.
As for your footwear, again, go for your tried and trusted pair of runners. Sunglasses are also a must too.
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU ON A RUN…
I would recommend running with a small lightweight running backpack which you can pick up from a store like Decathlon at an affordable price. This is important because it gives you a place to store hydration, electrolytes and energy boosters, as well as essentials like your phone, house and car keys, money, wallet / purse, sun cream and spare clothing should you wish to change straight afterwards or even put on a new t-shirt during a run. It’s always best to be prepared!
For me, those are the essentials and when you are running in the summer – at most times to be honest – it’s vital you have all these tick-box things with you, especially if you’re planning a lengthy run. From experience, when it gets so hot here, you want to keep everything stored away because the heat and humidity has the ability to damage your phone (it’s happened to me!).
At the end of the day, with a bit of planning beforehand, you can make sure you’re fully equipped to tackle your run and have everything with you in case of an emergency. Indeed, if you feel faint, ill or uneasy at any point, immediately stop, take some shade and drink fluids.
I touched on it briefly there but this is absolutely vital. Factor 50 sun lotion is very important and make sure you apply it generously 15 minutes before you start running outside and top it up during your run. Don’t forget to apply it to places like your neck and shoulders! These are areas not to ignore!!!