As the weather starts to warm up there are a few practical things we can do.
Put on your sunscreen.
There are sunscreens specifically for runners and walkers that stay on sweaty skin. I use my ordinary factor 50 sunscreen as I know it suits my skin, but it does sting if it gets in my eyes! Don't forget to put it on your ears if they are exposed, they are a prime site for sun damage skin cancer.
Wear a cap / hat
It's a good idea to wear something on your head to protect your scalp and your eyes. It also helps to shade your face, you can get caps with neck covering too, great if you are on a longer trek.
I have very thick hair so I prefer a visor so that the heat dissipates but I still get the eye protection.
Prescription or ordinary sunglasses keep the glare off your eyes and help to protect them, it's worth investing in a pair if this is an issue for you.
Most of us wear moisture wicking clothing as it's comfortable, but it also does a really good job of moving the moisture away from your skin to the surface of the clothing to allow it to evaporate and help keep you cool. It is tempting to wear a vest top, but often a T-shirt is better if you are going to be out longer, to give more protection to your skin.
Remember to take water, or your preferred electrolyte drink with you, even on short runs and walks. It is really important to stay hydrated even on cooler days, making sure you regularly top up through the day is important too.
The first sign of dehydration is thirst, ideally you should be drinking regularly enough not to get to the point of feeling thirsty. Fatigue, dry eyes, dry mouth, cramps, headache and muscle spasms are also signs of more serious dehydration and it can ultimately can lead to heat exhaustion and possible hospitalisation or worse.
I can't stress enough how important it is to keep well hydrated, but don't over do it. This is a good article about dehydration
After you've been out you'll need to cool down, it is tempting to jump in to an ice cold shower, but the shock can be quite extreme, so go cool rather than icy! Having something cold to drink is also great, an ice lolly or a ice-pole are my favourite ways to reduce my temperature! Read more about cooling down here
Use the shade
If possible plan your sessions to make the most of the cooler times of day, or take the shady paths. Depending on the time of day, wooded areas can be a haven of cool, or can hold on to the daytime heat and feel stuffy. This will be trial and error, you know your local paths the best, so experiment and find your best "hot day" routes.
Does sweat drip into your eyes? A layer of Vaseline or similar put across your eyebrow line, starting on one side near to your ear and continuing across to the other ear will help direct sweat away from your eyes.
Dampen your cap and pop it in the freezer for a short time before you go out, it gives you a nice cool head to start with.
Take a light jacket for after your run in case you cool down too quickly once you stop.
Will the heat affect my times?
In brief, yes, it probably will!
Your body is having to work hard to cool you down, producing sweat and sending your blood to your skin to cool down.
Your muscles also need that blood for oxygen and energy, so your heart and lungs are working extra hard to do that too.
It takes around two weeks to get used to the heat. In this country we rarely have the time for our bodies to acclimatise as we have such a huge variance in our weather, hot one day, rain and a chilly wind the next! So be kind to your body, a heatwave is not the time to be trying to set any records.
Don't let the warm weather put you off going out, but be prepared. If it is going to be HOT and there are weather warnings about, why not wait for the temperature to drop a little.
At Happy Feet we do pay attention to the forecasts and will cancel groups if we feel it's going to be too hot.
Safety is paramount, and comfort too, we want to enjoy our running and walking and missing a session now and again is much better than struggling through and risking overheating!
Keep safe everone!