While running in South Africa is a great way to experience the country and keep fit at the same time, there are some things you should know. Since I recently visited the country for about the 10th time (I have family there), I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try running in South Africa, which is currently in its summer.
Inevitably, mistakes were made while running in South Africa, so I’m here to give you some tips and tricks to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as me. There are many factors to consider while running in the country, so please bear that in mind if you want to try running whilst visiting. WIthout further ado, here are 5 essential tips for running in South Africa safely.
1. Bring LIGHT clothes
Okay, so this is ESSENTIAL for running in South Africa, because, amazingly enough, it can get HOT there in the summer. A couple of weeks before I arrived there, the weather was in the mid-30s (celsius, that is). The highest temperature recorded in South Africa is 50c! Luckily, I only had to contend with the mid-20s, but that’s still pretty hefty for running.
So, this is where I recommend bringing the lightest possible clothes for running in South Africa. Or, really doing any exercise.
South Africa can have some very heavy rain and thunderstorms too, but even with this weather, the temperatures can remain high. We had a couple of days where I couldn’t run because of the rain, so instead I exercised in my room, but still wore shorts and a vest because it was so hot! Even when you’re not running in South Africa, wear light clothing for exercise.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE
Something I should have figured out way sooner (but unfortunately I live in England, where this isn’t a big problem), is that in high temperatures, bringing water along when exercising is useful. I had to learn this the hard way, because I went running in South Africa without water, and being out in the high twenties for a half-marathon distance was not good for me.
In fact, I caught a bit of heatstroke and vomited all the water I drank when I returned from my run. Heatstroke is obviously a problem in countries like South Africa, and can be caused by extreme physical exertion – I think a half-marathon would fall under that category.
The takeaway here is that even if you don’t usually run with a water bottle, you should definitely do so in South Africa.
3. Make sure it’s safe
While South Africa has become safer in some aspects, it has quite a high crime rate in some areas. This is why, while running in South Africa safely is a possibility, it’s essential to make sure that the area you’re staying in secure. If you are staying with people, then they will be able to answer your questions – my family suggested some good routes that would be safe – while there will also be information online about what areas are safest.
Many hotels will also have indoor gyms and treadmills, so if you are worried about heading outside for running in South Africa, there is always that alternative.
4. Leave early
Also key to running in South Africa safely is leaving early. While the heat is already an issue I’ve spoken about regarding hydration, the time of day you exercise can also have a big impact on this.
When I caught heatstroke, I left my cousin’s house at around 7:15am. Not exactly the earliest time in the world, but I wouldn’t call it late. Despite this, the heat got very extreme for me, and I’m sure you know the rest by now.
I found that leaving the house between 6-6:30am for running in South Africa worked best, though distance is obviously a factor here. Generally you’ll be fine running around this time, or even leaving a little alter, provided you’re not running too far.
5. Hats off to ya
Rounding off the list of essential tips for running in South Africa safely is to bring a hat. Again, this may seem obvious to some people, but it wasn’t to me, and my body definitely paid the price for it.
If you come to South Africa without a hat, then you can find clothing quite cheaply, since the country is quite affordable for tourists. But seriously, don’t go running in South Africa without a hat. Unless you want heatstroke, that is.
I hope you’ve found the essential tips for running in South Africa useful! Have you been running in South Africa? I love it there, and running is a great way to explore the country, provided you’re safe. Let me know things in the comments below.
Until next time,
P.s. if you’re looking for more holiday running advice, you may find my post about running in Athens useful.