Running in Hot Weather: How To Beat the Heat

Running in Hot Weather: How To Beat the Heat

Summer is quickly approaching, meaning we’ll soon be enjoying longer days (yay!) and soaring temperatures (boo!). If you’re someone who likes to hit the pavement for a run or jog, it also means adapting to a new set of challenges to ensure your safety while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. 

Running in hot weather can be both demanding and rewarding, but it requires taking some extra precautions to keep yourself comfortable and protected. So, before you lace up your shoes and pick out that perfect playlist for your pace, let’s take a look at 10 tips for running in the heat as the thermometer struggles to keep up.

Acclimate Gradually

If you're not used to running in hot weather – and let’s face it, coming out of the cooler seasons, most of us aren’t – allow your body time to adjust to the changes summer brings. It’s a good idea to take it easy to begin with on warmer days. You can start with shorter runs, gradually increasing the duration of your sessions as your body begins to adapt to the hotter temperatures.

Be Smart About Timing

If your schedule allows, picking the right time of day to get your exercise in can be key to mitigating the negative effects of extreme heat.

Early in the morning and late in the evening are prime times for running in hot weather. The temperature is generally more comfortable these times of day, and it tends to be less humid. A bonus is that things in general are often quieter than they are in the middle of the day.

Of course if you’re running before the sun has fully risen or after it has set, you’ll want to make sure you’re visible to stay safe and avoid any accidents.

Stay in the Shade

Not everyone has a choice about when they can get out to run, but most of us do have some options when it comes to the route we take.

Doing the bulk of your running in shaded areas can provide relief from the scorching sun and make your exercise more pleasant by surrounding yourself with nature. 

Shade helps lower the ambient temperature around you, which can help prevent overheating. You're likely to get fatigued less easily, allowing you to sustain your pace for longer durations. Tree-lined routes can also offer a more aesthetically pleasing environment for your run, which in turn can have a calming effect that is conducive to a more positive mindset and better performance.

This is also a great way to explore parks and trails in your area that you might not visit otherwise!

Dress for Success

When it comes to what you wear for your summer jog, choosing the right clothes can make a huge difference in staying safe. Three things that are important to keep top of mind when picking out your running gear are moisture control, breathability, and sun protection.

Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics that promote airflow and aid in sweat evaporation. Materials like moisture-wicking synthetic blends or technical fabrics can help draw moisture away from your body, which helps to keep you drier and cooler.

Choosing loose-fitting clothing with vents, mesh, and cutouts can improve air circulation, which will naturally help cool your body.

Finally, wearing light-colored clothing helps by reflecting sunlight, rather than absorbing it. A hat or visor and sunglasses can help shield your head and eyes. You should also consider investing in some long-sleeved shirts made from lightweight, UV-protective fabrics to protect your skin from harmful rays.

Don’t Feel the Burn

Speaking of the sun, no one enjoys getting burned by it, but it’s bound to happen if you don’t take some simple precautions.

As with anytime you’re going to be exposed to the sun for any appreciable amount of time, you’ll want to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF to any exposed areas of your skin. Since you’re going to be sweating, you’ll want to choose a brand with water-resistant properties and consider reapplying even more often than is recommended to make sure you don’t lose coverage. And, as we mentioned above, covering up with lightweight, breathable clothing is essential – don’t forget your head and eyes!

Harking back to our advice above about choosing the right time of day to run, remember that the sun is strongest during the middle of the day – generally from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – so try to schedule your runs outside of these hours whenever possible.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

As a runner, you already know that getting dehydrated can be a miserable experience and certainly impacts your performance. Dehydration becomes even more of a risk as the temperatures rise and your body does its thing with sweat.

You want to make sure you’re hydrating before, during, and after your run with water and/or sports drinks that contain electrolytes. And don’t wait until you feel thirsty – that’s a sign that your body is already on its way to dehydration!

Pace Yourself

Everyone who runs knows it’s important to maintain a manageable pace to get the most of your workout – but that’s especially true when you’re exercising in hot weather.

Maintaining a controlled pace that’s appropriate for your conditioning level helps you prevent overheating and early fatigue. As we’ve covered, listening to your body is key. If it’s telling you you’re working too hard, you can adjust your pace to a more reasonable level.

Give Yourself a Break

You could consider this part of pacing yourself, but it really deserves its own call-out.

There’s no shame in pausing periodically to allow your body to cool down and recover from the extra stress the heat is putting on it. While you’re breaking, pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you, looking out for any warning signs of heat-related illness. Oh, and use that break to hydrate!!!


Heed the Warnings

Speaking of warning signs, it’s important to know what to pay attention to when you’re trying to avoid damage to your body from the heat.

Some common symptoms that could indicate you’re in danger of of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • A lack of sweat
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Muscle cramps

And, of course, if you faint or lose consciousness during exercise, that’s a huge red flag and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Buddy Up

On that note, you can vastly improve your chances of avoiding a bad outcome from running in the heat by finding a partner or partners to run with.

Not only can running with others be more enjoyable and motivating, it’s a great safeguard in case something bad does happen. If there’s an emergency and you become incapacitated, there will be someone there to assist you in getting help.

Is It Ever Too Hot To Run?

When considering whether it’s safe to get outside for a run, it’s not just the temperature that counts. Humidity should also factor into your decision. The Road Runners Club Of America says that if the temperature is above 98.6 degrees and the humidity is above 70-80%, it’s best to stay indoors – or at least skip running outside.

The good news is that most places rarely if ever see conditions like that, so it’s best to use your own judgment when it comes to making the call. 

To summarize: Running in hot weather poses its challenges, but by taking these precautions and making smart choices, you can conquer the heat and keep running strong all summer long.

Stay cool, stay safe, and keep moving forward!

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