Summer is finally here. For many of us, the lure of an ice-cold beer in the shade is much more appealing than sweating it out in the sun. However, we think it's possible to keep on running and cycling even in a heatwave. Here are some of Wiggle's top tips.
This is number one on our list! Everybody should know by now that sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer. If you're not sure about the level of protection you need, brush up on the guidance from the NHS. High levels of activity in hot temperatures mean you will sweat more so make sure you choose a sunscreen that will stay put like P20, or make sure you reapply often. If you're swimming, don't think you can get away without it because you can still burn in the water. P20 is an official supplier to British Triathlon and their suncare range has been formulated to be extremely water-resistant.
As Merchandising Manager Will Pakes-Geddes politely puts it, 'keep an eye on the colour of your you-know-what.' Yes, the colour of your pee is an easy indicator of dehydration (and over-hydration which can be just as dangerous). A pale straw-colour is the ideal.
It goes without saying that if you're exercising in hot weather, you'll need to drink more because you'll be losing a lot of fluid through sweat. Make sure you drink before, during and after activity - WebMD has some simple guidelines. Don't wait until your thirsty as that's often too late. Take some cash in case you need to buy water to top up while you're out or download the Refill App to find out where to refill for free.
Beat the cramp
When you sweat, you'll be losing electrolytes which can lead to cramps, putting you off your game.
'I always suffer from cramp, especially over longer rides as I tend to lose way more fluids and salts than I can put back in,' says Marketing Manager Rob Jarman.
'The trick I’ve learned is to load up on electrolytes in the days leading up to a ride in the sun, then an hour before your ride, OD on electrolytes, then have some on the ride too… Feels excessive, but it works a treat to effectively defend against cramp.'
Don't be hot-headed
Not just for the follically challenged (although if you are bald it's a great way to avoid painful sunburn), a cap or a buff soaked in cold water can feel wonderful for anyone on a hot day. Marketing Manager Sarah Pain always wears a cycling cap under her helmet. 'I always thought this would make me hotter when I started cycling, but I feel cooler as it keeps the sun off my face (and don’t actually feel hotter!).'
Niall McClay, who works in the IT team, not only wears a buff to protect his head but he also keeps a spare around his wrist to wipe away sweat and he can also switch it with the one on his head if that one is too drenched.
Digital Communications Manager Ed Tibbetts swears by his white helmet which has plenty of ventilation. This isn't the time for aero.
Keep it cool
There's nothing worse than a bidon full of luke-warm water when you're all hot and bothered. Content Assistant Shane Banks likes to fill his bidons the night before a ride and stick them in the freezer. 'They melt as the ride ticks along you get a nice ice cold drink for most of your ride. I sometimes use an insulated bottle if I want to slow the melting too, which is perfect for longer rides.'
Australian Marketing Manager Gina Ricardo's top tip is to buy freeze-pops on your ride to stick in your water-bottles. They'll keep your water cool and give it a fruity flavour as they melt. We also like her strategy of tucking ice-filled stockings into your jersey, although that one's probably more useful for Aussie summers rather than British ones!
Above image taken during the 2019 heatwave
When you're loading your jersey pockets or backpack, think about how well your food will actually hold up to the heat. 'Don’t eat things that are going to melt, like chocolate caramel bars,' Ed Tibbetts says. 'Take something that holds its shape more easily. My favourite summer snacks are a banana or Clif Bar.'
Become an early bird (or a night owl)
e-Commerce Executive Anna Smith-James has adjusted her schedule so she doesn't miss out on training. 'This weekend I did my long run (12 miles) on Saturday evening when it was a lot cooler. I started at 8pm and it was so much easier to run in. Far better than trying to do it in the heat of the day, and it means I didn’t have to get up stupidly early either.'
'Only ride in the middle of the day if you have to,' advises Ed Tibbets. 'If you want to train for hours it's better to ride early morning or in the evenings.'
Take it easy
We think Merchandiser Trevor Nixon has the right idea on this one: 'keep rides short so you have time to chill out.'
That doesn't mean riding or running extra fast. When it's hot, Sarah Pain tells us she copes by 'not putting the usual expectations on myself, not chasing any PB’s and being happy to ride at a more sociable pace with more stops!'
Be kind to yourself and make sure you have money for an ice-cream stop!
To layer or not to layer?
A base-layer might seem counter-intuitive but it can help to keep you comfortable by wicking sweat away from the body. An additional bonus is that it allows you to unzip your jersey whilst still protecting your modesty. The base layers in the dhb Blok range feature colourful prints so you'll probably end up unzipping just to show it off!
However, some still prefer to go without and simply wear a super-lightweight jersey. Although many sports fabrics feature an SPF treatment, it's always a good idea to check and slap on some sunscreen underneath if necessary.
Take the plunge
Here at Wiggle HQ, most of us live within easy reach of the coast and can go for a dip in the sea post-run or ride. Shane Banks told us 'I always take cash so I can buy extra water to drink and pour over myself.' A cold bath or shower when you get home can be refreshing too.
Embrace the heat
If you're training for an event and there's a good chance that it will be hot on the day, training in the heat can help you to prepare.
'Sometimes training in very warm conditions will work well if race day turns out to be a hot one,' advises Stock Controller Martin McCready. 'At least you have conditioned your body and hopefully adjusted your pace accordingly. It is very important to try and replicate race day conditions in your training, from what you eat, drink and wear to what race conditions may be like.
Don't forget, 'those precious tan-lines will be hard to come by in three months time,' as Trevor Nixon reminds us.
Finally, as Business Analyst Ben quite rightly says, 'enjoy it whilst it’s here because you’ll miss it when it’s not.'
Enjoy the summer and stay safe!