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Devlin Eyden

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Do you find that you ‘hit the wall’ in the last quarter of your long runs?

You know what it’s like…

One minute you’re running at a good, solid pace

…and then the next you’re basically walking.

It’s not always easy to find a way to fuel for your long runs that suits you and keeps your body feeling energized. 

Ask any group of runners what their main source of fuel is and the majority of them will tell you it’s… CARBS.

Following an LCHF diet, as a runner will raise a few eyebrows at your local running club, needless to say, it is possible…

There are different low-carb ways you could be fueling your long runs so that you can finish feeling as strong as you felt when you started! 

Let’s have a look at them…

The Ketogenic Route Of Fueling For Long Runs

If you want to go the low-carb route for marathon and ultra-marathon running, it’s possible. But then you’ve really got to fully fat adapt and go fully ketogenic. 

People who are following a Keto diet consume 80 percent of their calories from fat, 15 percent from protein, and 5 percent of calories from carbohydrates.

That means having a very low-carb diet, and it means on race day, fueling yourself on products that are non-carb-based things like MCT oils and macadamia nuts.

If you’re going to fully adapt and fat adapt, then you’ve got to commit to it…. It is hard and you’re going to have to work at it… because it is going to take a good few weeks of adaptation before you go ketogenic.

This is what happens to your body on a Keto diet: It no longer has access to fuel from carbohydrates so it goes into a state called ketosis and becomes ketogenic. That means, your body looks for the next best fuel source: fat.

Once you are fully ketogenic then you will be able to go for very long periods of time on very small amounts of much more complex carbohydrates. 

The Low-Carb Route Of Fueling For Long Runs (With Some Tweaks Around Timing)

Another alternative is that you can carry on with your low carbohydrate diet, but then you have to understand that you are always going to be running a little bit low on muscle glycogen unless you make some small tweaks and those tweaks are around when you actually fuel.

You either need to fuel for exercise, or you need to fuel during exercise. 

The one place you have to fuel is immediately after exercise, particularly if you’re going to be on a low-carb diet because that probably means you’re not going to be taking in many carbohydrates outside of that very crucial 30-minute window.

I feel it’s important to give both sides of the coin…

Both Sides Of The Low Carb Coin

In my opinion, you can carry on with the low-carb eating, but what it does mean is that every time you are planning very high-intensity exercise, or exercise that’s lasting longer than 90 minutes, you need to fuel properly during the exercise. 

Firstly, that means you need to start carrying the kind of products that you’re going to be using on the side of the road so that you can get used to them.

The second, and probably more important point, is that you need to refuel. 

It’s important that you take in a high carbohydrate product 15 to 30 minutes after exercise, you’re aiming for around about 750 ml within the 15 to 30 minutes. 

A good approach would be to figure out a strategy of what high-carb food you can tolerate before going for your long run.. It might be toast with honey and slices of banana or oats with honey and nuts and fruit.

Examples Of Good, Pre-Race Low Carb Meals:

  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tofu
  • Bacon
  • Ground chicken, turkey, and beef
  • Peanut butter & other nut butters
  • Smoked salmon or trout
  • Greek yogurt
  • Edamame
  • Nuts & seeds

How to handle pre-race nutrition.

Pros Of Running On A Low Carb Diet

  • Improved fat adaptation: Being able to go for long runs that last for hours (fuelled by carbs first, fat second) without getting fatigued.
  • Improved sleep and energy levels: According to HealthLine, studies show a ketogenic diet promotes adenosine activity in the body, helping to relax the nervous system, as well as reducing pain and inflammation. 

Con’s Of Running On A Low Carb Diet

  • Decrease in running performance: Ketosis is good for training your body to be able to go at a comfortable pace for hours without getting fatigued. Carbs are still the best source of fuel. 
  • No guaranteed endurance benefits: Sports scientists are far from reaching a consensus on the effects of a low-carb diet.

While you may feel great running on low carbs, you will certainly improve your running performance with more carbs. See carbs as “Jet Fuel”.

The point is that you need to consume a higher carbohydrate nutrient-dense meal 30 to two hours before an event and then refuel correctly after the event. With trial and error in your training, you can figure out what timing works best for your body.

We’ve all been at a race and seen some poor soul heading towards the finish and it looks like he may have been shot twice in the chest during the run…

…Upon closer inspection, you realize he may actually be bleeding to death.

From his nipples. 

I joke about it, but any long-distance runner will tell you that nipple chafing is no laughing matter. 

Chafed nipples, or runners’ nipple as it is sometimes called, can literally wreck a fantastic run.

Nipple chafing occurs when friction created between your nipple and shirt or sports bra causes chafing. It can be painful, but it can also be avoided.

With a little preparation your nipple chafing nightmare can disappear… here’s how!

What Causes Nipple Chafing On Long Runs

Chafed nipples are a very common running injury. 

The great news is that preventing nipple chafe is quite easy with a bit of trial and error and proper preparation.

Chafed nipples are caused by the fabric on your vest, bra, or running shirt rubbing against your nipple.

Nipple chafe in females is less common than in men, but nipple chafe can happen to women too if their sports bras are a little loose fitting. 

There is a good chance your nipples will chafe if there’s too much friction or movement between the nipple and the fabric that covers it. 

Nipple chafe can get quite painful and as mentioned before, you often see runners coming into the finish of a race with blood streaks running down their vest. 

Now that we know what causes nipple chafe, let’s see how you can prevent it…

How To Prevent Nipple Chafe While Running

The most effective and easiest way to reduce friction and prevent your nipples from chafing during a run is to put plasters onto your nipples and cover your nipples. 

You’ll probably need to experiment with two or three different types of plasters or tapes before you find the right type for you. 

I do find that certain plasters stick better on different types of skin. 

You’re looking for a plaster that is going to stick well to your skin and stay stuck to your skin for the duration of your run. It’s also important to stick the plaster onto your nipple before you apply any moisturizing cream or sunscreen to your skin. 

You want your skin and hands to be as dry as possible when you first stick the plaster to your skin and nipple. Any moisture on your nipple or skin will not allow the plaster or tape to stick properly. 

If you’re a very hairy male, you may also want to shave the hair from the area around that nipple before you stick the plasters on. 

Having a lot of hair under the plaster will allow moisture to seep under the plaster during the run and it may affect the stickiness of the plaster. In some cases it may even come off, causing the nipple to become exposed and susceptible to chafing. 

You want the nipple area to stay dry so shaving the surrounding area before applying the plaster will help.

I also try to avoid plaster or tape with any type of gauze or dressing on it. This can also absorb moisture during a run which can affect the stickiness of the plaster. 

Running in the correct clothing can also prevent your nipples from chafing.

Running in cotton shirts tends to make chafing worse, so good quality, a moisture-wicking shirt is ideal to run in.

Also, if you’re a female, make sure you are in a properly fitting sports bra.

The Best Plaster Or Tape To Prevent Nipple Chafing

In my experience, Elastoplast works quite well. I’ve used two or three different types of plasters in the past but you are looking for something that will stick and stay on throughout your run.

Kinesio tape also works very well and sticks for a long time.

Experimenting with the size of the piece of plaster you use can also impact how effective it is. 

You may want to just cover the bit of your nipple that sticks out or you may want to cover the entire areola.

For some runners, a tiny square of plaster is enough to cover and protect the nib of the nipple. For others, a lot more plaster is needed. 

You also want to ensure that the corners are stuck down properly too. 

A corner that is not securely stuck down can sometimes catch on your running shirt and the movement and rubbing over time can cause the plaster to come off. 

Best Running Shirts For Nipple Chafing

AVOID cotton at all costs! Cotton absorbs sweat and stays wet. The shirt you should be wearing must be made of synthetic, sweat-wicking fabrics. 

Cut off all seams and tags as they can irritate. Your shirt should NOT be baggy either. 

How Long Does It Take For Chafed Nipples To Heal

The healing time depends on the conditions and extent of the nipple chafe.

If it’s just a bit sore.., then the healing process could be within a few hours after you stop running, but if it’s serious it could take up to two to three weeks to heal properly. 

How To Stop Nipple Chafing During A Running Race?

If you feel that burning sensation that chafed nipples causes coming on during a race, you can apply an anti-chafing balm.

A lubricant like petroleum jelly or Vaseline, for example, can work too.

If there is a first aid or medic station on the race route, they should have some kind of lubricant that will help. 

They may also have plasters, which would be first prize. 

NB: If you are going to apply plaster to your nipples during a run, try and dry your skin as best you can. 

If there’s nothing around and you aren’t able to apply a lubricant or plaster,  then one of the ways that you can stop your vest from actually physically chafing against your nipples is to wet your vest. 

Every time you get to a refreshment station or water point, just spray or pour water across the chafed area.

Doing this will make your clothes stick to you, and they will then move with your body because it’s stuck on the body, rather than causing that friction between the two. 

On the odd occasion that I’ve forgotten to use plasters, keeping my chest and vest wet has been the most effective way for me to stop my nipples from chafing in the absence of being able to get something to put on my nipples during a run or race.

How To Treat Chafed Nipples From Running

You must treat the wounds as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse.

Note… Running through this type of injury will only make it worse. 

This is what you can do to help with the healing process of your chafed nipples:

  • Take time off from running to allow your nipples to heal completely. Do some cross-training and strength training instead. (Here’s a free strength training program)
  • Wash the wounds with a non-chemical soap and unscented soap and then dry them well.
  • The wound can turn into an infection easily so it’s a good idea to use an antiseptic cream.
  • Cover the wounds with breathable gauze to keep unwanted dirt off your nipples but at the same time provide breathing room.

One of the many reasons a lot of us run is to feel that “giving it out all”, heart-pumping, endorphin-releasing feeling.

An increased heart rate during any type of exercise is completely normal and completely necessary.

Going out too hard is common… and not necessary. This happens especially with recreational runners and sometimes the problem isn’t pace but your heart rate… 

Let’s have a look at the warning signs you should be watching out for…

What Happens When You Run At a High Heart Rate?

An elevated heart rate is a cause for doing some investigating… but may not be a big concern…

The thing to look out for, particularly when you’ve got a high heart rate is irregularities in your heartbeat.

Irregularities like big fluctuations, (really high heart rate and then stabilizing)

If your heart rate goes up quite quickly…  stays high and you’re still feeling quite comfortable and can hold a conversation with the runners around you then… You’re running easy enough and shouldn’t worry.

If your heart rate is for example 20 beats higher than runners around you then it’s not a reflection that you are running harder than them, this is just an indication that you are pushing yourself a little harder than them. 

However, keep in mind that you may naturally have a higher heart rate than other runners so it is key to not compare your HR with anyone else.

What If You’ve Got A Higher Than Normal Heart Beat 

If you’ve got a high resting heart rate and a higher exercising heart rate and it goes up by 40 beats per minute … this will indicate that your heart rate is higher than normal… and if it does become irregular then you should get yourself to a doctor.

Running To Heart Rate Simplified: THIS Is Why Heart Rate Zones ACTUALLY Matter:

How To Determine The Correct Heart Rate To Run At?

If you’re going to use heart rate to control your intensity then you must make sure that your heart rate has been measured accurately. 

For me, that means getting yourself a well-reviewed chest strap. – I’m becoming less and less of a fan of wrist-based heart rate monitors. 

This is key because it will show an accurate measurement. Once this is done correctly then using your heart rate is a fantastic way to control your running intensity. (It’s even better than pace!)

The one limitation that you do have from training to heart rate is that if you live in a hilly area, you need to know how to compensate early on in the hill because it does take 45 seconds or longer for your heart rate to adjust to a new intensity. 

When you hit a hill, you can easily be 30 – 45 seconds in before you realize… Whoa, hang on my heart rate is going up. 

How To Find The Correct Heart Rate For You:

If you’re starting, it’s a little bit more difficult… because we don’t like to put people into a very physiologically compromised state very early on in a training plan. 

In the beginning, you could use one of the age-related formulas, just keep in mind that these are more of a guideline. But once you’ve been training consistently for four to six weeks, then I’d encourage people to do a test to try and figure out either maximum heart rate, which is probably the riskier of the two tests, or a test to try and calculate threshold heart rate. 

For maximum heart rate: you should aim to find yourself a hill that will take you at least three minutes or four minutes to run at a close to an all-out effort.  And then have a full recovery with a long, easy walk back down the hill. 

If you repeat that three to four times, you will get pretty close to your maximum heart rate.

For estimated threshold heart rate: You should go out and run for between 30 and 40 minutes, as hard as you can sustain for that length of time… That will give you a good estimate of your threshold heart rate.

To use that information. From maximum heart rate you want to run between 70% and 75% of maximum on your easy days, or 75% to 80% on of threshold on your easy days.

Over time, you will hopefully see that you are slowly getting faster at that heart rate. 

Using Your Running Heart Rate To Build a Sensible & Solid Fitness Base

When you are training and laying your training foundations – you must run at a low enough intensity.

Your running heart rate is always too high when you start running. Do keep in mind that heart rate can be affected by several factors such as weather conditions, stress, lack of sleep, fatigue, and alcohol. These things need to be considered if you see your heart rate is off.

Most people and especially people who are starting running will always train at too high an intensity – Just because of the nature of the eccentric load and the poor condition of their cardiovascular system. This means that they cannot do much aerobically before they start going into needing energy pathways that provide energy without oxygen or in the absence of oxygen or as we term anaerobic conditioning.

In the beginning, it is very important to be able to run easily enough. 

There are lots of formulas you can use to work out a percentage of your maximum running heart rate. (You can calculate your maximum heart rate by 220 minus age.)

All you want to know is if you are in an aerobic zone when you are running easily. 

Dr. Philip Maffetone wrote a book called The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing

It simplifies this well by stating: 180 beats per minute minus age unless you are a very young person (between 15 and 19) which is going to ensure that you are going to train well into your aerobic zone.

He takes it one step further: any illness or if you haven’t trained for a long period of time or if you’ve had an injury, for each one of those cases you take off five. 

So basically,  if you are a 30-year-old male and you haven’t exercised before plus you’ve recently been ill, or you’ve tried to start exercising but you fall ill, then you would be 180 – 30 = 150 beats per minute minus five because you haven’t exercised regularly in the past minus five because you’ve been ill.

Therefore your maximum running heart rate that you’re allowed to reach is 140 beats per minute. That means if you get to 140 and you’re on a hill then you walk. 

If you train like that, you’re disciplined and you do it over 12 weeks your speed at that heart rate will get faster and faster. 

The words metatarsal stress fracture is enough to strike fear into the heart of any runner…

…At best you’ll miss weeks of training, and the worst-case scenario is you’ll be on the sidelines for months. 

Your foot is made of tiny little bones, called metatarsals. A metatarsal stress fracture is an acute fracture of one of the little bones in your foot. This fracture occurs due to overuse or poor foot biomechanics.

Let’s have a deeper dive into why metatarsal stress fractures happen, the symptoms, and what type of treatment is required…

Cause Of a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

A metatarsal stress fracture is not the most common stress fracture you can get. 

What I have found with running injuries over the years is that when our bodies break down, they generally break down at the weakest point.

So what happens is that there’s a long line of stress in the body and it’s the part of the body that’s unable to deal with that stress that breaks down and sometimes the stress fractures include the metatarsals.

Stress fractures, in general, are primarily an overuse injury but many factors play into the causes of getting a metatarsal stress fracture in general: 

  1. Stress fractures in sports are often caused by a repetitive force that is applied over a long time.- That is why runners who run long distances often suffer from metatarsal fractures.
  1. Metatarsal stress fractures are often caused by being in the incorrect shoes.
  1. The surface you run on would also play a big role in developing a stress fracture in your foot. If you’re training on hard paving all the time that would put you at a higher risk of developing any type of stress fracture. 
  1. Building up your mileage too quickly can also put your body under enormous strain that could result in a metatarsal stress fracture. 
  1. Nutrition can also be a contributing factor to developing a metatarsal stress fracture. 

If you have really poor nutrition, if you’re extremely underweight or if you have or have had an eating disorder you may be predisposed to getting stress fractures easier.

Marathon runners typically are always trying to lose as much weight as possible, so it’s important to get the balance right of losing weight while still giving your body the nutrients it needs to perform at its best.

When you are underweight and if you aren’t eating properly there is a good chance your nutrition is poor. That then is a contributing factor to stress fractures in general.

Bone Health: What You Absolutely NEED To Know

Now that we know a few of the causes, let’s have a look at the symptoms of a metatarsal stress fracture…

Symptoms Of a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

One of the difficulties in diagnosing a metatarsal stress fracture is that there are varying degrees of pain. 

By their very nature, stress fractures are like a dull, underlying, niggly pain. 

You’re often not quite sure how serious it is because many times the pain is manageable.

You can often run with metatarsal stress fractures. Quite typically, a metatarsal stress fracture will be quite painful at the start of exercise, and then the pain and discomfort might minimize and sometimes even go away completely during exercise.

And then immediately after exercise, as soon as you start cooling off, the pain will start to return. 

They often come on quite slowly over time because they really aren’t that painful, and the pain can come and go, we tend to run on them until we’ve done some real damage.

Metatarsal Stress Fracture: The Early Warning Signs

NB: You shouldn’t ignore any discomfort or pain.

That’s the only way that you might be able to catch something like a metatarsal stress fracture at a pre-stress fracture stage, or what’s called a stress response phase rather than the stress fracture phase.

If you catch it early, you may only need to be out for a couple of weeks, as opposed to potentially 6 to 12 weeks out.  Because the metatarsals are a moving part of your body and are weight-bearing, they also tend to heal slower than some of the other stress fractures so you mustn’t ignore any pain.

So… How do we treat it?

How To Treat a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

My suggestion would be to consult a doctor in sports medicine. 

You will need to head to a medical center to have scans and X-rays taken of your foot and ankle to confirm that you do have a fracture of one of the metatarsal bones.

If the injury is not soft tissue related but is an actual of the metatarsal you’re probably going to be putting a boot for six weeks. 

You’re probably going to only start running another two to four weeks once you’ve come out of the boot. 

You’ll probably also be put on a course of steroidal anti-inflammatories which will help with the initial discomfort and reduce some of the inflammation and pain. 

You would also need to try and get to the bottom of what caused your metatarsal stress fracture.

This may all sound a bit intimidating but don’t fear… it is preventable!

How To Prevent a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

There are a few things you can do to prevent getting a metatarsal stress fracture

  • Analyze your training program (to make sure you aren’t training too much or building up too quickly)
  • Check your biomechanics (to make sure there are no real issues in your makeup that are predisposing you to, particularly a metatarsal stress fracture)
  • Your nutrition (Eat enough, nutrient-rich foods so that your body is not deficient in nutrients needed for good bone health)
  • Check your running gait and make sure you are running in the correct running shoes.
  • From time to time, there may be a shoe that for whatever reason, in its design, maybe place stress through a particular of your body. 

In the past, I’ve seen a sudden spate of metatarsal stress fractures and on closer inspection, I realized all the athletes were in the same brand and model of running shoe…

The easiest way to figure out if a model of running shoes is causing a particular problem is to simply Google it. 

Getting Back Into Running After a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

One of the things about stress fractures is that the bone normally heals very well. 

The first thing to do is ensure you are pain-free before returning to running after a metatarsal stress fracture.

The body typically over responds to the site where metatarsal stress fracture occurs so if you allow it to heal properly, it’s unlikely to fracture again.

If it does fracture again, you will need to do some investigations around bone density (This is often an issue in female athletes) and really dig into past nutritional practices.

As part of that rehabilitative process, you also want to strengthen all the muscles that are in particular required for running. 

Primarily you want to strengthen your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. (This strength training plan will help you strengthen the muscles you need to strengthen to avoid injury)

A runner’s number one enemy…

Blisters!

Blisters are caused by friction and look like bubbles on the upper layer of the skin. They often fill with fluid and can pop at any time exposing a spot of raw, sensitive skin. 

Blisters that are manually popped with an unsanitized needle can become infected and should then be treated by a medical professional immediately.

Blisters can be very annoying and painful for runners but despite not being a serious health risk, they can sideline a runner.

Let’s dive deep into everything a runner or non-runner needs to know about blisters…

What Causes Blisters When Running?

For runners specifically, blisters are usually caused by socks or shoes (or both) rubbing against the skin of the feet. Any friction and rubbing of material on certain areas of your feet will cause blisters.

Heat and moisture cause your feet to swell when you run thereby increasing the friction as well.

In response to the friction, the body produces a fluid around the affected area which builds up and forms a bubble on your skin. These bubbles, or blisters, sometimes pop by themselves while you’re running. When popped, the layer of skin underneath the bubble is exposed which is very sensitive and painful.

Many runners experience blisters more during races as they are running faster and perspiring more than on their training runs. 

Wearing ill-fitting running shoes can also cause blisters. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can irritate and chafe your skin, which results in foot blisters.

How To Choose The Correct SIZE Running Shoe For YOU: 3 Simple Hacks To Get The Perfect Fit

It’s important to make sure that your shoe is the right size. 

If the shoe is too tight or if the shoe is too loose, so either too small or too big, both of those can lead to blistering. 

When trying shoes on you should: Put the shoe on, and tie your laces so that they are reasonably snug but not too tight. You should be able to fit your thumb between your heel and the shoe and it should not be loose. If you can do this without forcing your thumb in with difficulty then you’ve got the right size.

Does Vaseline Work For Preventing Blisters?

There are a couple of things that need to be done to prevent getting blisters and it does depend on exactly where the blisters are. 

Vaseline is one of the things that normally work, but unfortunately, because running shoes are made of material, the petroleum jelly will eventually absorb into the shoe itself.

Resulting in you still getting blisters… other options need to be explored that would work better at preventing your blisters.

Special Socks Can Stop Toe Blisters

For blisters on your toes, you can actually get socks with individual toes so that the chaffing will happen between the socks rather than between your two toes.

Types Of Running Blisters

There are essentially three types of blisters you get from running that you need to be aware of:

Common Blisters

Common blisters are the kind of blisters that most runners experience. They are bubbles of skin that usually pop by themselves and leave some raw skin exposed. These blisters are usually quite pale and can be a few shades lighter than one’s skin color.

Blood Blisters

Blood blisters are more uncommon in runners as they are caused by the pinching of skin without breaking its surface. Blood blisters usually only occur if your shoes are too small or a small stone finds its way into your shoe while running.

However, friction and chafing can also lead to blood blisters if the underlying blood vessels get damaged. When the friction or pressure on the affected area breaks the blood vessels, it causes blood to mix with the clear fluid in the blister. This makes the blister appear red or purple.

Infected Blisters

A blister gets infected after being drained improperly or popped with an unsanitary needle. Infected blisters turn yellow, green, brown, blue, or black, fill with pus and the surrounding area will feel warm. If you think you may have an infected blister, go and see your doctor immediately.

How To Treat Blisters From Running

Small blisters generally require very little treatment and will heal up by themselves over time.

You can cover your blister with plaster or band-aid & bandage to prevent more friction from occurring while you walk or run.

Small blood blisters should also be left alone to heal in their own time. 

There are also many products on the market that you can use like blister patches or blister shields.

If you start to feel a blister forming during a race, get medical assistance as soon as you can.

Stop at one of the medical stations to tape or bandage it up before it gets too painful. If you feel one coming on during a workout, you should consider ending your workout early to prevent it from fully forming. 

This will allow it to heal quicker and you can get back to training in no time.

One way you can stop the blister from getting worse is to cut a hole the size of your blister in some moleskin. Place it around your blister and then cover it with a bandage. This moleskin doughnut will prevent any further friction and the blister will then dry up and start to heal on its own.

Popping small, mild blisters exposes raw skin to bacteria and opens it up to a risk of infection. If your blister does pop by itself, make sure you keep the area clean and replace your bandage or plaster daily.

If you have a more severe, painful blister that is preventing you from running or even wearing your shoes, you may consider draining the blister. 

If you feel like you need to drain your blister, you should contact a medical professional. Someone with a sports medicine background will be able to get you back on the road or trail in no time.

If for some reason, you cannot see your doctor, it is possible to safely drain the blister yourself. 

However, it is highly recommended to see your doctor instead of doing it yourself. Draining your blister should only be done as a last resort and only if your blister is causing unbearable pain.

To drain a blister, first, you will need to wash your hands and the blister with soap. 

Then sanitize the blister and surrounding skin with an antiseptic (eg. rubbing alcohol) and sterilize a sharp needle with the antiseptic as well or boil it in water for 5-10 minutes.

Gently pierce the blister with the needle in a few places around the edge of the blister to drain the fluid. Very gentle pressure can be applied to help drain the fluid. It is very important to leave the overlying skin intact.

Then apply an antiseptic cream or ointment to the area and cover with a plaster or bandage to protect the area. Apply a new bandage daily and keep an eye out for any signs of infection. If you notice any redness or pus, go and see your doctor immediately.

Do not try to drain a blood blister. If a blood blister is causing you pain, go and see a medical professional for treatment advice.

Moisture Is Not Your Friend When It Comes To Blisters

Wet socks and wet shoes are a big problem when it comes to blisters.

If you’re into trail running, I would carry a pair of dry socks with me so that after a river crossing and after you’ve run a bit to get the moisture out of your shoe, you can top and out a fresh pair of socks on to prevent blisters.

How To Prevent Blisters When Running

As horrible as blisters are, the good news is there are some things you can do to prevent getting them when you run.

  1. Wear proper-fitting shoes

Make sure your running shoes aren’t too small or too big. Since your feet swell as you run, your shoes should be about half a size to a full size bigger than your normal shoe size. There should be some wiggle room around your toes too. When buying your running shoes, it’s worthwhile visiting a specialist running store to make sure your shoe fits correctly.

  1. Socks

You should wear socks that are specifically made for running as they are made from synthetic materials that wick moisture away from your feet. Avoid socks made from materials like wool or cotton as they get very moist and will cause more chafing.

Running socks are also shaped better to fit the feet properly. This prevents the material from bunching up around the toes, causing hot spots and rubbing against the skin.

Double layer socks are also a great prevention method when it comes to blisters. Some running socks have a double layer which is specifically designed to prevent blisters from forming. The two layers rub against each other rather than chafing against the skin. This reduces friction and thereby preventing blisters from occurring.

  1. Tape or bandages

Many runners will use athletic tape or moleskin over known problem areas of the foot to ensure that there is no rubbing on the skin. If you use some sort of tape, make sure you apply it smoothly. Believe it or not, some runners swear by the use of duct tape to prevent blisters from running too.

  1. Use a balm or lubricant

There are some special balms made specifically to prevent chafing, but Vaseline would also work just fine. Apply the balm around problem areas to prevent blisters. The balm acts as a protective layer between your skin and the material of your socks.

Tracking your running cadence can ultimately help you become a better, faster runner but there is not one specific universal cadence that everyone should aim to run at.

However…

There is a range that you should strive to be in.

Running cadence refers to the number of times your feet hit the ground within a specified amount of time (usually a minute). So logically, if you increase the number of steps you’re running in a minute, you’ll be moving forward faster.

There are several factors that impact your optimal running cadence, including your height, weight, leg length, stride, and general running ability.

Before we get into all of that, let’s find out more about running cadence and what it actually is…

Everything You Need To Know About Cadence

There are two ways that running cadence can be defined. 

  1. The total number of times your feet will hit the ground (steps taken) in a minute or another defined period of time.  Running cadence is therefore measured in strides per minute (spm).
  1. The second is calculated by tracking the number of steps only one of your feet takes during a minute. Some popular fitness brands, such as Polar, use this definition of running cadence in their running watches and other fitness gadgets.

Running cadence and the length of a runner’s stride are the two factors that affect a runner’s speed.

Therefore, if you want to become a faster runner…

You should either increase the number of steps you take in a minute (your running cadence) or the length of your strides.

For beginner and recreational runners, the average running cadence is anywhere between 160-170 spm, and cadences lower than 160 spm are usually seen in runners who tend to overstride.

More experienced runners and elite runners usually aim to have an optimal cadence of 180 steps per minute.

Running Cadence & Stride Length: Does it ACTUALLY make a difference?

How To Increase Your Running Cadence

Increasing your running cadence takes time but it is doable. 

There are 3 things that you can try to gradually improve your strides per minute.

1. Build it up slowly
2. Try using a metronome

3. Run on the spot

Build it up slowly

You can start to increase your running cadence by upping your regular cadence by about 5-10% in one or two of your weekly runs.

You could also alternate between your normal running cadence and a slightly faster cadence during your runs. So run normally for about 5 minutes and then run at a faster cadence for one minute.

Alternating with distance also works for this technique. So, for example, you’d run every 4th or 5th kilometer at a higher cadence.

Once you get more used to that running cadence try running a 5 or 10k with that new running cadence and see how it goes. From there you can just keep increasing it slowly and incorporating it into your weekly runs without stressing your body and leg muscles.

Try using a metronome

Metronomes are devices that are used to keep a specific time or rhythm. They produce a set number of clicks or beats per minute which you can follow without having to manually keep count of how many steps you’re taking.

It’s very easy to lose track of your running cadence if you’re monitoring it without the help of any gadgets and you’ll often increase or decrease your speed as you run without meaning to do so. This is why metronomes are so handy for runners as they help you to keep your stride without even thinking about it.

You can set the number of clicks per minute the metronome will produce so you can easily start to increase your running cadence by gradually setting it a little bit higher until you’ve reached your goal running cadence.

Run on the spot

There are a number of running drills you can do to help increase your cadence but a simple, easy one that you can do at home is to run in place. 

To do this drill start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and then run on the spot as fast as you can for 20 seconds.

When you run in place, lift your knees halfway so that they point forwards and run on the balls of your feet making sure your heels don’t touch the floor.

Rest for a minute after the 20 seconds of fast running and then repeat two or three more times. This drill is easy and quick to do at home in your free time and helps to train your feet to move off the ground quicker which will help to increase your running cadence.

You can do this drill a few times per week and keep track of how many times your feet hit the ground in the 20-second period. In this case, counting the number of times one of your feet strikes the ground will be easier to keep track of so choose either your right or left foot to focus on. If the number gets higher, you will know that you are getting quicker and improving your running cadence.

How Important Is Running Cadence?

Effectively the faster we run, the higher our cadence tends to be and that will also be different from person to person. 

As a faster runner, I would typically have a higher cadence than a slower runner. But I will also have a higher cadence when I’m running faster than when I’m running slower. 

We shouldn’t manipulate cadence much.

There have been loads of articles put out there about cadence, both in scientific literature, as well as in your everyday magazines… it has become quite the buzzword. 

This has caused a lot of coaches to focus heavily on cadence…

I feel that they have been a little pressured into making these decisions because research very clearly shows that whenever we manipulate cadence, running form, or anything to do with our running = When we manipulate it artificially… without question… we become less efficient.

Time and time again, research paper after research paper, we become less efficient when we manipulate our running stride or our cadence and our running form or biomechanics.

Your body will find the most efficient cadence for you. 

This will change depending on how tired you are, the distance you’re running, and the speed at that you’re running. 

Every single step you take while running provides your body with a new learning opportunity.

What happens is that your body gets biomechanical feedback and then makes small adjustments to find the most efficient way for you to run.

Fun Cadence Fact: Where did the 180 Steps per Minute come from?

The cadence ‘rule of thumb’ of 180 spm as the running cadence number you should aim for has been around since the 1984 Olympics.

A running coach by the name of Jack Daniels noted that the vast majority of the Olympic athletes’ race cadence exceeded 180spm.

What Is a Good Running Cadence?

You’re probably wondering ‘What should my cadence be for running?’ and chances are you’ve read or heard that 180spm is the optimal running cadence, but that is not the case and is a finding that has been repeatedly taken out of its original context.

Every runner is different and needs to find the cadence that works for them as individuals.

Running cadence also depends on your weight, height, and general running ability as well as the types of runs you are doing.

For a long-distance run, your running cadence will be slower than during your speedwork and races so it’s a good idea to know what your different cadences are for your easy, normal, and tempo runs as well as for your half marathons, marathons, and other races.

To know what your cadences are, you need to monitor your running cadence in each of those types of runs, either with one of your running gadgets or just count your steps manually for a minute at a time now and then in your run (although this won’t be as accurate).

If you are counting your steps manually, you can count the number of times your right or left foot strikes the ground in 30 seconds and then multiply that number by 4 to get your running cadence.

Once you know your natural running cadence you can then work on improving and increasing it by practicing the methods mentioned in the section above.

Running Cadence & Injuries

We can’t repeat this enough… we highly recommend adding strength training and mobility training to your training routine FIRST to reduce injury but…

Mobility Flow Here

Studies have shown that slightly higher running cadences can help prevent injuries from occurring as it affects an athlete’s running form.

A faster running cadence takes stress off the knee and hip joints because there is less jarring than a long stride. This decreases the likelihood of injuries surrounding those areas, which are very common in runners.

Runners with a higher cadence have a shorter stride length than runners with a lower cadence who tend to take longer strides and put more load onto their heels when their foot hits the ground. This can not only slow you down but also contribute to injuries.

So… gradually increasing your stride rate can help you become a better runner while also preventing injuries.

We all have a lot to say about the year 2020, it’s crazy to think that Covid 19 came into our lives over 2 years ago already!  What an absolute hurricane of chaos it has been…

New research reveals that there was a running boom during the pandemic. More than a fifth of all runners say that they run more often than they did previously as a result of Covid-19 and most in that group say they will continue to run more often once the pandemic is over.

Recent research by runrepeat.com also identified the growing popularity of running stating that 28.76% of runners started during the pandemic.

With more people taking up this beloved sport, we think this is an excellent opportunity to discuss everything you need to know about running with and after Covid 19. 

Organs Most Affected By COVID‐19

We all have a pretty basic understanding that a virus infects your body by entering healthy cells. Once there, the invader virus creates copies of itself and multiplies, spreading throughout your body.

According to WebMD, the coronavirus latches its spiky surface proteins to receptors on healthy cells, especially those in your lungs. (The viral proteins bust into cells through ACE2 receptors.) 

Once inside, the coronavirus hijacks healthy cells, takes command, and eventually kills some of those healthy cells.

The virus moves down your respiratory tract. (mouth, nose, throat & lungs)

COVID-19 is more likely to go deeper than viruses like the common cold. More than 8 in 10 cases are mild. But for some, the infection gets more severe.

Your lungs might become inflamed, making it tough for you to breathe. This can lead to pneumonia.

It is a disease that predominantly affects the lungs, but it can also harm other body organs, such as the kidneys, brain, and heart. 

Organ damage may result in long-term health problems, long-term breathing problems, and heart complications.

The Amount Of Exercise You Should Be Getting During Self Isolation

While self-isolating You should still include some exercise in your daily routine. Being active and avoiding long periods of bed rest is important. 

Exercising can help you to recover more quickly – both physically and mentally.

Exercise is medicine. If you have symptoms above the neck, things like runny nose, sneezing, of the common cold, such as nasal congestion or runny nose, or minor sore throat, you’re OK to exercise – BUT very easy,”

says Dr. Montero from Mayo Clinic. 

If you have a fever; body aches; fatigue; or other symptoms, such as a stomachache or hacking cough, then it’s best to rest until you are symptom-free.

Note: Chat to a doctor if you have concerns or experience additional pain or symptoms when you exercise.

Don’t worry if it feels like you have less energy than usual. This is normal and may last for up to 6 to 8 weeks.

  • Slowly build up back to running. Don’t try to jump in where you left off.
  • Set yourself a realistic target each day
  • Most importantly, rest when you feel tired

Let’s have a look at how Covid 19 affects your running… 

Running & Covid 19

Common COVID-19 health problems that may affect how well you can run include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Phlegm – this can depend on how you were affected by the virus
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue) and a lack of energy
  • Muscle weakness and joint stiffness

Should You Run If You Have COVID-19?

If runners are asymptomatic, they can run but should do so slowly and they should monitor their heart rate… we will get to this in more detail later in the article.

Interesting Facts About Running Heart Rate Post-Covid Or Vaccine: THIS Is What You HAVE To Know

Coming Back From a Long Layoff & COVID

You’re ready to start training properly again… post-Covid but aren’t sure what the best way to go about this is…

A study has been done at Pretoria University, that essentially talks you through certain symptoms, and what that means for your recovery. 

It’s an amazing piece of research that can tell you if you had x symptoms, it should take you X amount of time before you consider vigorous exercise.

As a general principle, coming back from a long-term injury or long-term illness, we want to be as symptom-free as possible and restart. 

That’s especially true of illness. So if you do get quite sick, you should aim to be certain that you are free of any overt symptoms and you want to just take a really slow systematic approach to build up again –  on the Coach Parry platform, we make use of Dr. Phil Maffetone’s methodology in building up.

We start with a low volume and very low intensities, which are controlled by heart rate. 

When people are recovering from illness, the heart is such a good way of seeing what’s happening inside of the body. So, if you limit your intensity to that heart rate, you are very unlikely to overdo it in the early stages, it will also control your intensity in such a way that it’s also very difficult to injure yourself. 

The combination of using heart rate to hold you back, and just very systemically building up… these are based on Dr. Phil Maffetone’s MAF method – Maximum Aerobic Function. 

The MAF method involves selecting a heart rate that we know is well below your threshold, then a week on week, very slowly building that up, and how slow and where you start will depend largely on just how much time you’ve spent out of the game.

If you’ve been very sick for a short amount of time, then this period will perhaps last two to four weeks, if you’ve been out of the game for a few months this will last you 6 to 12 weeks. 

The key is patience and discipline.

Running & Covid 19 Summary

  • There are no hard-and-fast rules or answers as to how long it will take to feel back to normal with your running after Covid.
  • It is best to hold off until all symptoms have resolved, and this will take five to ten days for most individuals, depending on the severity of the illness.
  • For runners who were asymptomatic with COVID, taking three days off of running is a good rule of thumb to ensure that symptoms do not develop over this period.
  • It is ok to get back into running if you no longer have any severe fatigue, shortness of breath, or increased heart rate.
  • The key is to take things slow and listen to your body.

When you’ve got to go… you’ve got to go… 

A sudden bowel movement while running is called Runners Trots, it is when you have a strong urge to poop during or after running. 

You may be surprised to know that this happens in over a third of runners!

In this study published by the National Library Of Medicine, 62% of long-distance runners that participated in the study had to stop during their run to have a bowel movement.

If you get the urge to go when you’re running or racing, you’ll want to continue reading…

Why You Feel The Need To Poop When You Run 

Running causes your body to divert blood from your Gastro-Intestinal tract to your muscles, which, if you have much of anything in your system, can contribute to your needing to poop.

The longer the run, the more likely it’s going to mess with how well your gut is functioning. 

This is a common complaint across all endurance athletes, but almost twice as likely for runners

Exercise stimulates your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract to move more, this increases your risk of pooping.

In 2005, Paula Radcliffe won the London Marathon and broke the women’s world record.

She did however have to stop on the side of the road and release her bowels in front of thousands of fans. She went on to win the race after pooping, saying that cramps had been bothering her.

Unfortunately, Radcliffe’s experience isn’t uncommon for runners — though most of us make it to a port-a-potty.

Having to make a stop at the port-a-potty before a race is completely normal. It only becomes a problem when your toilet stops are getting in the way of your run.

Everything You Need To Know About Runners Trots

Runners trots is usually linked to one of two things. 

Effectively, there are some people that get no blood flow, it diverts completely away from the gut. It’s a normal response for us to divert blood from the guts to the working muscles, but in some people that is exaggerated. 

And when that happens… everything that’s in your intestine and your colon wants to get out. 

Similarly, for a large number of people, runners trots is caused by a lot of irritation, particularly if they have too much glucose. 

So it could be a dietary cause… something like a mild form of Celiac disease, some people have problems with gluten with dairy or high concentrations of glucose.

Firstly, I recommend beginning to look at the nutritional side of things. Loads of people are mildly gluten intolerant and don’t even realize it. 

You should look at different food groups and avoid eating too close to exercise.

This Is How Long You Should Wait After Eating To Go For A Run

One more thing to look out for is the type and amount of gels you consume. You should avoid washing your gels down with another high glucose drink like coke… doing this will trigger your tummy. Rather opt for taking your gels with water. 

If changing your nutritional race/running routine doesn’t work then we suggest seeking medical advice.

How Long Does Runner’s Trots Last?

Runners trots usually begin during your workout or run and can continue in the hours after you’re done running. 

Your tummy runs shouldn’t last for more than 24 hours, if they do it may be a sign of a serious medical condition.

Runners Trots Causes

Needing to poop urgently while running or post-run could be caused by several things as discussed above, but the most common factor is what you eat—either before or during a run.

Certain things, like high-fiber and high-fat foods, sweeteners, or caffeine, can upset your stomach.

In summary, runners trots could be caused by…

  • The physical jostling of internal organs and undigested food and liquids.
  • Decreased blood flow to the intestines as the body diverts blood from the intestines to the muscles being used to run.
  • Increased motility (muscle contraction in the GI tract) as exercise stimulates all muscles in your body
  • Increased production of stress hormones and cytokines (inflammatory proteins), particularly before a race.

Runner’s Trots Symptoms

  • Bloating
  • Belly cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fecal incontinence, or being unable to control bowel movements
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Bloody stool

What Runners Do When They Have To Poop During a Race

The answer is quite simple really, runners make a note ahead of time where the portable toilets will be on the route and they stick some toilet paper or baby wipes in their pocket or race belt.

Runners generally coordinate their poops, they try to get on a regular schedule of eating, sleeping, running, and pooping. 

They time their meals and most importantly, pack toilet paper.

How To Empty Your Bowels Before Going For a Run

But. First. Coffee.

No really.

Studies have found that regular and decaf coffee has the same poop-inducing effect. Drink your favorite hot drink about 30 minutes before… go time.

Another way to speed up bowel movement is to move your body. Motion can bring on a bowel movement, so try a quick dynamic warm-up routine before stepping out the door.

(You should be warming up anyways!)

10 Tips For Avoiding The Need To Poop While Running

  1. Start to eat a higher-than-normal proportion of carbs (and less protein, fat, and vegetables) at every meal a few days before the race.
  2. It’s essential to start your run properly hydrated.
  3. Avoid creamy and fatty meals, these can upset your stomach and cause GI problems on race morning.
  4. Have a pre-race meal that you have eaten before and contains both protein and carbs.
  5. Avoid pre-race port-a-loo stress by lining up for a port-a-potty, even if you don’t need to go at that moment. By the time you get to the front of the line, chances are high that you’re ready.
  6. Avoid high-fiber foods. One day before running, try to limit foods like beans, fruit, and salad.
  7. In your running, try taking note of how much fiber you can run on before your tummy gets upset.
  8. Avoid sweeteners. The day before your long-distance run, limit or avoid sugar alcohols like isomalt, sorbitol, and other artificial sweeteners.
  9. Avoid NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These types of medications include ibuprofen and naproxen.
  10. Wear comfortable clothes. Running in clothes that are too tight around your waist can irritate your bowels.

The thought of “mobility training” is often thought of as a real waste of a good run day…

If for example, you struggle to just stand on one foot, these minuscule imbalances can accumulate during the thousands of repetitions on a normal run and increase your likelihood of getting those tight quads, hamstrings, and those niggly problem areas as well as increase your chances of gaining a serious injury and decrease your energy efficiency.

Usually, to counteract this, we add stretching and strength training to our routines – fantastic! But many of us still end up with aches and pains. 

If this sounds familiar, we’re about to transform your running forever… with just two words… MOBILITY WORK.

Mobility Defined

Mobility is a term used to describe something’s ability to move and refers to the way your joints move inside their socket. 

In essence, it is the ability to move your joints freely with the surrounding tissues allowing the movement to happen smoothly.

Mobility isn’t the same as flexibility, though it is close. Mobility incorporates flexibility and strength training.

A good way of understanding the difference between mobility and flexibility is to do this…

Make slow windmills/circles with any of your arms, and think about the way your shoulder is moving. Flexibility refers to the ability to lengthen a muscle in a stretch. Mobility refers to the range of motion of your joints, in this case, in your shoulder.

Why We All Need Mobility

According to the National Insitute on Aging (NIA), maintaining mobility and preventing disability are key to living independently as we age.

When people become less active, their muscles tighten, flexibility diminishes, and range of motion decreases.

Some joints are meant to be stable, while other joints in the body are meant to be more mobile. 

A lack of adequate mobility in those joints can create imbalances that will probably result in compensated movements and increased risk of injury… for everyone and anyone not practicing mobility work.

Why Mobility Is SO Important For Runners

Mobility is absolutely vital to how well you run. 

If you have tightness and poor mobility rather around your joints, it affects the quality of your stride, it also affects the power that you’re able to put into each of those strides. 

By having a mobility limitation you are risking: How well you run & how fast you run. 

By not doing mobility work you are increasing your risk of injury and it becomes more crucial as you age.

It’s very important for us ALL to be doing regular mobility work to keep ourselves in our stride and our running performance as optimal as possible.

Does Mobility Make You Run Faster?

Yes!

Including mobility work in your training plan will improve your running performance and decrease your risk for injuries, resulting in the possibility of improving your running speed.

Think about it, If your muscles and joints are able to move through the entire range of motion required with each stride, you will run efficiently, you’ll run fast and you’ll decrease your risk of injury. (I know we keep on repeating this, but it’s just incredible!)

All you need to do is have good mobility through your feet and ankles, knees, hips, and spine.

Now that you know why mobility is so important, let’s dive into how often you should be doing the mobility work…

How Often You Should Include Mobility In Your Training

We always hear runners saying…” I’m not stretching after my run” or “ I’m not getting my flexibility in every day.”

This is where mobility and flexibility are probably the same…Mobility every day would be so beneficial to your running. 

Here at Coach Parry, we are massive advocates of strength training, and two to three strength sessions a week is probably ideal depending on your age and your ability. 

With mobility, it’s not a case where less is more… it’s a case of more is more!

A lot of people often go … okay, well, this is yet another thing I now have to fit into my schedule… How on earth am I going to fit this in too?

Mobility work is something you can do as you wake up first thing in the morning, it’s quite a nice way to get yourself going for the day or before your run.

Let’s look at some of the areas that we should be focusing on from a mobility perspective.

Where Runners Should Be Focusing

Two of the main problem areas we tend to find in runners are poor ankle mobility, as well as poor hip mobility. 

That’s not to neglect any upper body work. A really big focus that we like to incorporate is upper body or shoulder mobility rather, which will also have an effect on your running posture and how you keep yourself upright. 

More often than not, we all work jobs that are stuck behind a desk, we might be slouched over quite a lot, and that all transfers into how tight we are and how immobile we are in our running posture.

If we look at lower limb and hip mobility as an example: You may have experienced a bit of knee pain in the past and what surprises people to find out is that more often than not… that pain is a referred pain from higher up in the chain. 

The biggest problem experienced is poor hip mobility. If your hip flexors are tight, if your hips are immobile, what that’s doing is it creates a misalignment in how your muscles are contracting or pulling in one direction, and how your patella or your kneecap tracks in its groove.

So all of those aspects often come from one simple problem… hip mobility. If you can solve your hip mobility problems, you can get rid of your knee pain, unless it’s more of a trauma-focused type of knee pain. 

Now that you know that mobility is one of those things that are going to impact your running. 

We have put together a mobility flow series just for you!

Click Here For FREE Mobility Flow Series

10 Benefits Of Mobility Training

  1. Improved joint range of motion.
  2. Improved circulation.
  3. Decreased risk of injury.
  4. These exercises can actually be a warm-up for your regular workout routine.
  5. Reduced muscle tension and soreness.
  6. They will add variety and change to your regular workout routine and help keep you motivated.
  7. Improved posture.
  8. Improved movement efficiency.
  9. These exercises tend to have a calming feeling & can help you release stress.
  10. Mobility training can help keep problems like back ache and knee pain away.

Spring or fall normally wins the honor of being everyone’s favorite season to train in… but trust us when we say that summer does have a lot going for it.

Research shows that running in the heat can help us prepare for races that take place in hot weather, even better, running in high temperatures can lead to improved overall fitness.

The key is to know how to train safely in the heat, which is exactly what we’re going to teach you in this article.

Is It Ok To Run In Hot Weather?

There is the possibility of serious health consequences to exercising in the heat and humidity, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. But these can be avoided if you listen to your body and take sensible precautions…

Yes, running in hot weather does present several risks but it is okay to run in hot weather if you drink enough fluids to stay hydrated, avoid running at the hottest times in the day (between 11 am and 3 pm), wear breathable clothing, and by slowing down your normal pace.

Let’s have a look at how you can run in the heat and not get too affected by the hot conditions…

How To Run In Hot Weather

We’ve all had that situation where we’ve been training for a race or an event and we’ve been training at home or wherever we live, and then arrive at the event and it’s a good a few degrees hotter than what we’re used to…

For example, say it’s a bit more humid, and you end up struggling on race day. The good news is there is a way to mitigate that.

What makes running in hot conditions so challenging?

Very simply, our bodies struggle once they get too hot to function, because the proteins that we rely heavily on in terms of the integrity and structure of our cells, and some of the functioning of our cells, start to degrade when it gets too hot.

Temperature and altitude are the two biggest hindrances to performance.

Once you get into a very hot environment, your body starts to struggle to get rid of the heat… 

Remember when we are exercising, we are like little engines. So think of yourself as a steam train. The more energy you need, the hotter that furnace is going to burn. Then you need to get rid of that heat.

If you cannot get rid of the heat, we call it down-regulating your body will force you to, it sends out a signal and you will start to feel bad, this is because your body is trying to slow down the intensity so it can ‘turn the stove down.

If your body doesn’t ‘turn the stove down’, you stand the chance of experiencing physiological stress, which is very dangerous.

You want to be able to manage this process…

We can do several things to regulate our temperature while running in hot environments:

  1. The first part and the easiest part is to immediately do things to ourselves to keep cool. 

We do lose a lot of heat from our forehead and of course, when you’re exercising in a hot, humid environment, the first thing you should be doing is putting on a hat.

That hat protects you from the sun, right? 

The sun of course does its damage. So we would not suggest running without a hat, but you’re now blocking one of the very efficient places for your body to lose heat…

We recommend keeping your hat wet and cool so that it can still act as a conductor and you can lose heat at the top of your head.

  1. Keep your skin wet and cool.

If you do keep your skin wet with water and cold water, in particular, that is a really good way for your body to release heat.

If you’re exercising in a very hot but dry environment. It’s not nearly as severe because you could lose loads of heat from evaporative cooling.

This is when you need to run in very light clothing.

The best type of clothing for running in the heat is made from moisture-wicking material that quickly takes stuff to the surface and evaporates and when it evaporates there’s a lot of cooling that takes place.

In very hot, humid environments that doesn’t happen. This is when using cool fluids becomes very important to regularly douse yourself with.

There are some garments on the market at the moment. The one that I’ve personally experimented with is E-Cooline, but there are a couple.

What they have done with those garments, is they have bandanas, caps, arm sleeves and a T-shirt, they are like shirts essentially but they are a little bit thicker and they have a substance that when it becomes wet, a chemical reaction forms, which causes that suit to cool down.

  1. Losing heat through your neck is also an extremely effective way.

If you have a buff on you, you can keep it wet and cold. 

If you’re in extremely hot conditions, you can take a pair of stockings, and put blocks of ice inside the stockings to hang around your neck. It will slowly melt and drip down your t-shirt.

  1. We can also prepare our bodies to cope better with the heat.

In two ways essentially:

  1. Exercise in heat.

This will cause adaptations that teach our body to cool much more efficiently in those types of conditions.

You can do this by running in the middle of the day or during the hottest part of the day.

Please use suntan lotion, and wear a cap and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

Or, you can hop on a treadmill and train in a very heated room.

If none of the above work for you you could even get into a sauna. This would work if you spend between 10 and 30 minutes, for two sessions a week.

Those two sessions a week will cause a lot of physiological changes that will make you far better able to cope with exercising and racing in hot and humid environments.

Let’s see how long that adaptation would take?

Imagine you were doing a goal race that was in a climate a lot hotter than you are used to. It’s very similar to trying to adapt to altitude.

Essentially, when you move to altitude, once you’ve been there for six hours you’re more adapted than you were when you arrived.

When you’ve been there 12 hours, so on and so forth until probably seven to 10 days you get full adaptation.

For the race, you should go to the location about 10 days before the race and you’ll undergo quite a lot of adaptation. That said, sauna sessions will make the same adaptations.

We understand that it’s not always practical to get to a destination race 10 days before, that is why prepping accordingly beforehand becomes that much more important.

How To Deal With The Heat During The Comrades Marathon

You want to keep your body temperature down. There are loads of water tables along the Comrades Marathon route. 

Most of the water sachets stay in big baths with ice. So I would advise you to keep your body temperature down by keeping yourself wet pretty much the whole way. Take every opportunity you can to put ice on your skin. It is your skin temperature that you want to control.

Runners from up north are at an enormous disadvantage and truthfully there is not a massive amount you can do other than doing some heat acclimatization by training in a hot, potentially humid environment. 

Most importantly though is to manage yourself on race day and of course if you keep dousing yourself with water, blistering is going to be a potential issue on your feet. So you’ll want to put some added protection around your feet like plasters or Vaseline.

Benefits Of Running In Heat & Humidity

It has been proven that training in the heat (with the correct safety precautions taken) can increase your blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce your overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, and increase your skeletal muscle force.

This will all have a massive positive impact on your training in colder conditions.

According to Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. Heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Running in heat and humidity is the same as training at altitude. This is because running in hot weather puts stress on your cardiovascular system making your heart stronger. It also decreases blood flow to muscles because the blood is going to your skin instead, making training similar to that in high elevations.

Dangers Of Running In Hot Weather

Running in hot weather can pose dangers to runners…

  1. Dehydration

While running, your body loses fluids through sweat. If you don’t replace those fluids by drinking water or other liquids, you can become dehydrated.

In hot conditions, we do need to add some electrolytes or even a pinch of salt to our water, to ensure we absorb that water better, otherwise, it just sweats right through us. 

Also, higher sweat rates require higher fluid intake

  1. Heat Cramps

These are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy exercise in hot environments.

  1. Heat Exhaustion

This is a very serious condition that can lead to heatstroke.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Dizziness
  • “Goosebumps” (particularly on the torso and arms)
  • Nausea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting)
  • Moderate to severe headache
  • Weak legs
  • Lack of coordination
  • Rapid pulse
  1. Heatstroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.

  1. Hyponatremia

This occurs when the level of sodium in the blood is too low.

With this condition, the body holds onto too much water. This dilutes the amount of sodium in the blood and causes levels to be low.

Now that we know the risks that come with running in heat and humidity, let’s see how we can avoid those risks and run safely…

Tips For Running In Heat & Humidity

  • Avoid dehydration: You can lose between 6 and 12 oz. of fluid for every 20 minutes of running, especially when it’s hot.
  • Prehydrate: Drink 10–15 oz. of water 10 to 15 minutes before running, and drink water every 20–30 minutes during your run. 
  • Add some electrolytes or even a pinch of salt to your water, to ensure that you absorb the water better.
  • Try the trails: When the temperatures rise, asphalt and concrete absorb heat and radiate it back into your face. Trail running usually offers shade from trees
  • Carry water: Use water bottles, a hydration vest, or a fuel belt to carry water with you.
  • Take it easy: Take the weather conditions into account. Brutal heat and humidity mean that you should scale back your goals for the day.
  • Know the signs of heat illness & stroke and if you do not feel better, get home or call for help.
  • Splash yourself where possible: Use water to cool yourself.
  • Dress for the weather: Your running clothes, socks included, should be made of a wicking technical fiber, choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Wear a hat with a significant brim to keep the sun off your face. Wear a pair of lightweight sunglasses designed for sports activities.
  • Apply sunscreen.