The weather has been hot, sticky and humid for the last few days. That’s great if you can sit poolside or on your deck with a lemonade in hand, but what if running is part of your daily routine? You might be wondering how you can run in this weather. Here are a few of my tips for running in the heat.
Hot weather running tips
Hydrate and carry fluids: Make sure you regularly drink water the day before you run, and throughout the week. I normally carry my fluids using a four bottle Fuel Belt. I generally have two bottles of water and then two bottles of Gatorade or some other electrolyte beverage. I also make sure there’s a water fountain or a store like Starbucks, McDonald’s or Subway where I can stop in and refill my water bottles if I need to.
Check the forecast: You might normally do your long run on Sunday morning, but what if Saturday turns out to be the cooler of the two days? Check the weather forecast and be prepared to adjust your run schedule accordingly. Save your shorter run for a hotter day.
Run in the early morning or at dusk: If you want to run outside, you may have to run early in the morning or later at night to avoid the heat. If you happen to be running in the dark, make sure you have reflective clothing and a headlamp so that cars can see you. I suggest forgoing the headphones or turning down the volume on your iPod so you’re aware of your surroundings: you never know who or what could be lurking in the bushes.
Dress appropriately: Remember my other post ‘10 Tips for New Runners‘ where I said you don’t have to get moisture wicking clothing right away. Well, if you want to run outside on a hot day, you’re going to want some so you’re not weighed down by sweat drenched shirts and shorts. Moisture wicking clothing pulls the sweat from your skin, allowing it to evaporate more easily. Also wear clothing that’s loose-fitting – you want the air to get in between your skin and the clothing in order to keep you cool. Light colored clothing also helps to reflect the heat.
Protect yourself from the sun: Wear sunscreen. Yes, it’s an extra step but if you’re outside for more than a few minutes, you could easily get a sunburn. Make sure you use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, and that’s sweat proof. Use sunscreen even on a cloudy day, as harmful UVA rays are still present. Wear a visor and take sunglasses to protect your eyes and face.
Stay in the shade: Is there one side of the street that provides more shade than the other? Stick to the shady side of the street and conserve your energy. You’d be surprised how much more exhausting it can be running in direct sunlight than running in the shade. If you have access to a trail, try running there instead of on the road or the sidewalk. Concrete and asphalt trap the heat from the sun and reflect it back onto you.
Go slower: When running a slower pace it may take the same amount of effort as running your normal pace in cooler weather. Don’t go flat out on a hot day and get into trouble. If you’re usually a continuous runner, take a walking break or two.
Run indoors on the treadmill or at an indoor track: If the only time you can run is at lunch time, play it safe and run indoors. It might be boring running on a treadmill or track, but at least you’ll your mileage in. Besides, if you run on a treadmill, you can bring your favorite shows or movies on your tablet or phone and get caught up. That’s not so bad!
Listen to your body: The good news is that your body does eventually adapt to the heat and humidity, but don’t be afraid to skip a run on an extremely hot day. There’s nothing wrong with that. Once I made it 6 miles into a run and felt so exhausted that I had to call someone to come and pick me up. A ride home with a friend is better than a ride in an ambulance after passing out, but don’t be a hero – heat stroke isn’t worth the risk. Some of the signs and symptoms related to heat illnesses can include:
- dry skin
If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
What are some of your tips for running in the summer and beating the heat?