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Training & advice

Get ready for summer

Summer is a wonderful time of year for running. The days are long and so you are not as restricted to where you can go in the early mornings or evenings, the temperatrue is warmer and so you can run with less clothes, which means less weight, and so feel faster and more fleet of foot and there are more opportunities to run off-road and enjoyment of the surroundings!

Not only that but there are plenty of events as summer series kick in as do races in the evenings. Have a look through the calendar, to find an event that excites you and then check with our Training Wizard that you have enough time to train for it. Programmes generally last from six weeks to sixteen weeks and the shorter the event the shorter the training programme so work out how much time you have, find an event and then get on with it.
Summer can bring its unique challenges though, especially if the weather is very hot.
The current advice on drinking is to drink when thirsty and with meals. Our bodies can't store extra fluids and if you drink too much you will only need to go to the toilet more! To make sure you are well hydrated you should check the colour of your urine and it should be the same colour as straw.
On a hot day you should drink 1 - 2 hours before training or racing and then 200 - 300ml just before you start but you should practice doing this so that you become comfortable with it.
Unless you are running for longer than one hour you shouldn't need to drink whilst you run and if it is longer than an hour you should drink when required, which generally means 300 - 500ml per hour. An energy drink may be better as it has carbohydrate as well as liquid and sodium that you lose through sweat.
Heat will only be a problem if it is over 33º c or if humidity is high so  it shouldn't be a problem unless you are on holiday abroad but below are some simple strategies to manage heat if you feel you really must run in very hot weather. It is better to rest on very hot days or run early in the morning or late at night before it gets too hot.
Try to run in shade and before you start cool the body down by using ice, sponges and water. Key points are the neck and head.
When you have finished you should cool the body down as quickly as possible with water, shade etc.
Reseach at Roehampton University in London found that healthy young men could cover significantly more distance during a timed run on treadmills in a hot laboratory if they wore an ice-cold strap-on neck collar. The collar, lined wth flexible, artificial-ice packs, noticably lowered the skin temperature on the men's necks. However, it did not lower their body temperatures over all. In the experiment, the men could run further with the neck collars nut when their legs did give out their core temperatures were significantly higher. Our bodies tell our brains to stop running when this is the case. In this experiment the runners bodies were growing warmer but their brains weren't registering it. It seems their running time was extended "by dampening the perceived levels of thermal strain." The mind is a powerful thing and will slow us down before we physically need to. We do have a reserve tank. By cooling the neck and head we trick ourselves into thinking that our bodies are cooler than they actually are. This could be dangerous if taken to the extreme but could be useful for the duration of a race on a hot day.
Choose clothing that is going to keep you cool and reflect the heat as much as possible. Avoid dark clothes and choose lighter options that are made of technical fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin.
The most important piece of running gear is footwear. Running shoes should be changed every six months or every 500 miles, depending on which comes first. It can be hard to see when a pair of shoes has had it but if yours bend and twist easily in your hands, it's time for a new pair.
The best place to get them is your local running specialist and there's good news for Run England members. Sweatshop are giving you £15 off your running shoes! The adidas range is a good bet. They have trail and road shoes so that you can mix your surfaces on your new programme. Logging your training is important. You are more likely to stick to your programme if you are recording your progress. You should have a look at the runbritain handicap scoring system that gives you:
  • opportunity to enter the monthly Reward Running 2012 competition
  • personal progress graph
  • direct comparisons with other runners with a 'head-to-head' function
  • weekly mileage logger and graph
  • national ladder position showing your ranking amongst all UK runners
  • current rankings at each of the major distances (5K, 10K, HM, Mar)
  • handicap score updated automatically after each run
  • target times to bring score down to the next level
  • training schedules to help you achieve your targets
By being a part of this you will have the incentives you need to keep your running going as you will enjoy seeing your progress. The handicap scoring system is designed to give road runners of all abilities a benchmark of their progress and comparisons of their results across a range of distances and terrains.
Click here to see a sample page - the winner of the 2011 Reward Running Competition
Tell your friends, family and work colleagues what you are doing. This does two things. First, it increases the level of commitment in your own mind. And second, it tells those around you what you're doing so they can make allowances for it in their lives.
Finally, if you haven't already, ou should join a club or running group. There you will benefit from the advice of a coach or a leader, you will have people to run with and you will be socialising with like minded people.
Enjoy the summer!