“10 sure fire hints to keep cool on race day. You won’t believe Number 7!”

Yeah we’ve all seen the clickbait rubbish.

Number 7 will not be unbelievable.

It’s unlikely to even be relevant.

It’s very likely written by someone who’s never raced but is paid to generate content. Their next article will be 13 surprising alternatives for dishwasher salt or even worse “You won’t believe how much these childhood actors from the 70s have aged in the intervening 50 years”.

So with all that in mind here’s a random brain dump of techniques I’ve used to try and keep cool and avoid instant death on hot races. None of them I invented. That’s probably why they all work. A bit.

  1. Slow down. Boring yes. You can’t do anything about the ambient temperature. You can control your heat production rate. Slow down before you break down.
  2. Acclimatise. Hopefully you’ve already done that. Well done. If not and you’re reading this day before your A-race then it may be too late.
  3. Shade. Yes it’s obvious but run in the shade if you can. Watch the footage from the ‘hot one’ at London Marathon. See how many keep to the sides in the shadow of building and how many run down the middle in full sunshine complaining it’s hot? Don’t be them.
  4. Hat on in the sun. Take it off in the shade to let your head cool a bit.
  5. Arm sleeves. Yes they look stupid. Even elite athletes look stupid wearing them. They look even worse on a tubby middle aged project manager having an outdoor poop on the downs but they do work. They keep the sun off your arms and you can soak them in streams or taps to help keep cool. You could even shove ice or a Calippo down each sleeve to boost the chill factor. Have I mentioned how good Calippo are? Incidentally if you are having an outdoor poop they also work as loo roll in an emergency.
  6. Buff. Same as above. Wet fabric you can move about to aid heat transfer and keep the sun off. It’s been scientifically proven (no it hasn’t) that a generic neckwear tube in yellow with a duck logo is the best for this.
  7. You won’t believe this one. Sorry.
  8. Calippo ice lollies are the daddy of all ice lollies. Anyone that says Solero are better is on a government watch list. Anyone that says Feast are the best ice lolly has no idea what a lolly is. A Calippo is perfectly shaped to shove down the back of your neck under your race vest to cool you. Wrap it to your wrist with a buff to cool the blood flow on your inner wrist. Stick it in your race vest next to your water bottle to cool your bottle. Unlike a crappy Solero even a melted Calippo is still a heaven sent slushy sugary hit of cold.
  9. Suncream. Whilst it won’t keep you cool it will prevent skin cancer or at least sunburn. Both suck. Slapping suncream on at 5am seems stupid but 50 miles later when you’re flame grilled like a whopper you’ll be sad you didn’t.
  10. Ziplock bag. We’re all trying to cut down plastic usage so use the one from your sandwiches. Fill it with cold water or ice. Stick it under your hat. You’ve just invented portable air conditioning.
  11. Dress sensibly. You are hot. You want to be as naked as the day you were born. Sadly that will mean excessive chub rub, sunburn and painful chaffing from your race vest so don’t be stupid. The combined weight of 2” sleeves on your tee compared to a tiny vest will not slow you down. The massive infected welt from not having sleeves will.
  12. All ultras route through graveyards. Nobody knows why. James Elson might I guess. Rather than dwell on your own mortality remember that most churches have an outside tap for watering flowers. Ideal to wet your hat and cool you down. In Britain it’s probably safe to drink too.
  13. Horse water troughs. Ever noticed how they’re full of manky water? Don’t drink that. Most are connected to a water pipe though with a float valve like your toilet cistern. Push down on the ball attached to the arm and ‘fresh’ water will come out the valve. I wouldn’t drink it but it’s safe to rinse yourself down with. In an emergency if it’s a choice between drinking that, your own pee, or a can of Fosters it would be touch and go.
  14. Tell everyone how hot it is. Nothing helps you keep cool more than constantly talking about how hot it is. Sorry that’s the wrong way around isn’t it? Stop being British and talking about the weather. You all know it’s hot. Repeating that fact will not make it cooler. Launch into a detailed recount of your last bowel movement to take your mind off it.

That’s it. Some of this might help. It might not. There are no amazing solutions to having to race in the heat. Except maybe don’t race at all. Go to a nice air conditioned pub. Have a beer.

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