All runners know that weather is not always on their side. That’s especially true in Thailand with its seasons of extreme heat and intense rain. Additionally, runners who travel to foreign countries may also want to know how to go about running in the cold or winter seasons. So how does one prepare to run in these varied weather conditions?
The hot weather here in Thailand presents some serious obstacles for runners. The most important of these, of course, is dehydration and the resulting risk ofheatstroke , which can actually be life-threatening.
Prevention of dehydration begins with good preparation before exercise. For starters, you should drink about 200 ml of water before each run. You should also carry a small water bottle with you while you are running so that you can take sips of water throughout the run as well, especially when running long distances, as this will help to prevent dehydration that could otherwise occur.
The timing of your exercise is also important—avoid running during the middle of the day when the temperature is at its highest and/or the sun is at its strongest. The best time for running is in the early morning hours, as this is generally the coolest time of the day. If you must run during the day, make sure you choose a running route that is shady so you are out of direct sun. It is also important to remember is that you should always wear proper sun protection, including sunscreen, sunglasses and/or a sun hat.
When choosing your clothing for running in hot weather, make sure you select the items that are lightweight, comfortable, light-colored and breathable.
Most importantly when running in hot weather, remember to be aware of your physical condition throughout the run. If you feel dizziness, disorientation or palpitations, stop and ask for help immediately.
First and foremost, check the weather forecast. If there is a risk of heavy rain or strong winds, you should avoid running if possible. This is obviously especially true in the case of outdoor running, which could pose a variety of dangers from tree branches, billboards or other items that could be blown about and cause injury. Because of this, if you will be running during the rainy season, your safety is something you need to prepare for diligently.
The clothing you select should provide adequate warmth, yet proper ventilation. Choose bright colors that can be clearly seen, and avoid light-colored clothing as it will become see-through if it gets wet while you are running. Socks should be lightweight and of moisture-wicking material, as added water will not only be uncomfortable, but will also add unwanted weight while you run. Wear a hat and/or glasses that will keep your face and eyes from being pelted by the rain.
Running while wet from the rain can also cause chafing in areas such as the inner thighs or the inside of joints. Because of this, runners should spread Vaseline on the inside of joints or other problem friction areas in order to prevent chafing.
Check the condition of your shoes each time before you run, as on wet road conditions, you can slip, fall or injure yourself more easily than usual.
Any electronic devices you carry with you should be kept in waterproof cases.
Very importantly, always dry your body thoroughly after you run, change into dry clean clothes as quickly as possible, warm your body with nice warm drinks, and get plenty of rest.
For running in cold weather, the most important thing is to ensure you are warm enough before going out for your run. Always check the weather first, and then select clothing that provides sufficient warmth for the weather conditions you will be running in. Wearing a hat is also a good way to prevent loss of body heat in cold weather. If the weather is very cold, gloves and earmuffs or warmers may be necessary as well.
Wearing multiple layers of lighter clothing is better than just one layer of thick fabric, as during your run, your body temperature will rise, and you may need to take off some layers in order to better control the body temperature.
Cold weather is known to remove moisture from the skin. Applying lotion before running will help to reduce dry or cracked skin from chafing while running.
Make sure to warm up for at least 20 minutes first in order to prepare your body before going out for a run. If you are running long distances, run only what you have practiced and know you are used to, as the colder weather will keep you from feeling tired as quickly as usual or slow your pulse, and thus, running too quickly at the beginning may cause you problems at the end. It is recommended that you, instead, stick to what you have practiced for at least the first half of your run, and then increase your speed towards the end, thus ensuring you finish the run safely and well.
Once you have completed your run, change into warm, dry clothes as quickly as possible, warm your body, drink something warm, and make sure to get plenty of rest.
As you can see, running in different kinds of weather conditions requires different kinds of preparation. In all cases, however, the most important thing is your safety, so if the outside weather is not conducive to a run, running on a treadmill inside a safe building is a great exercise option to consider.
Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University , 2008