While running in hot weather conditions can be quite challenging, it shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a great run. Use the following strategies to make the most of your runs during hot summer days.
The most important tip for running in the heat is to stay hydrated. If you aren’t drinking enough water, you could experience symptoms of dehydration, such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and muscle cramps. When it’s really hot outside, it’s not enough to just drink water before and after your run. You also need to bring along water to drink during your run. You could take water bottles in a running belt or wear a hydration vest. After your run make sure to re-hydrate.
- isotonic sports drinks
- alcohol-free beers (isotonic)
- coffee or tea
- fruits and vegetables
Your running outfit will make a big impact on how comfortable you feel while running in the heat. Lighter colors are better at reflecting heat. As far as materials, moisture-wicking clothing is a must to help you from feeling drenched in sweat. Look for lightweight run wear featuring UV protection, and mesh panels or vents to help with breathability. A light hat or visor and sunglasses can be helpful to block the sun from your head, face, and eyes.
Proper breathing techniques will help you conserve energy, which makes it a bit easier to handle extreme temperatures. Practice calm breathing into the belly to optimize oxygen uptake in your muscle cells. Run slower if you need to. Develop a steady rhythm with your gait, like inhaling for two steps, then exhaling for three steps.
Sidewalks or streets can get burning hot in full sunshine. Instead of asphalt or concrete, both of which retain heat, try to look for grassy areas instead. Or find a nice trail in a nearby park or forest. They’ll be significantly cooler, especially if they are shaded by trees.
Temperatures can be a few degrees cooler in the mornings and evenings. Generally, early mornings are better since there was more time for temperatures to drop overnight.
As temperatures heat up, your performance will likely go down. Don’t expect to hit your peak pace or speed through your run in these weather conditions. Slow down your pace a bit in the heat and also plan for your runs to be a bit shorter. You don’t want to experience dehydration or overexert yourself.
Chafing worsens the more you sweat, which can be brutal in the heat. To prevent this from happening, apply anti-chafing cream to your skin in areas prone to chafing and wear moisture-wicking clothing, without or with flat seams and minimal stitching. And don’t forget good quality running socks, to prevent blisters.
It is recommended to wear sunscreen to protect you from damaging UV rays if you run in the sun. Choose one that’s sweatproof with an SPF of 30 or higher.
How hot is too hot to run? While your body can withstand some high temperatures, there’s a point where running in the heat can become dangerous. However, there isn’t a specific temperature to tell you when to stay inside. Some people are well-adapted to hot weather, which means they can continue running in tropical heat, whilst others may tap out at lower temperatures.
If you decide to go for a run in extreme heat, make sure you’re fully hydrated, start slowly and plan to do a short run. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous at any point, stop running and walk home. If possible, go early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and stay close to your house so you don’t have far to walk back if you get overheated.
Hot weather doesn’t have to be a reason to stop you from enjoying a run. I hope these tips help you stay more comfortable and safe during your runs in the heat. Enjoy the summer!