7 Tips for Running in the Heat
So today I went running. The temperature outside was approximately 104F, and no, that’s not an exaggeration. Why it’s easier for me to run when it’s the temperature of the sun outside versus a balmy 50 degrees, I don’t know, because I loathe running in the cold.
Either way, the run wasn’t awful, and I think that has to due with my preparedness. So lo and behold, I’ve come up with a handy dandy list of items that might just help make your sweltering run a little bit more manageable.
1. Put ice in your clothes
Yes, I’m serious. It doesn’t feel like torture and it will be your lifesaver. I wrapped a few ice cubes in a paper towel and put it on the back of my neck. Obviously it melted as I ran but it felt oh so good. You can use the icy towel to wipe up sweat, wring it out over your head, and keep yourself cool in general.
2. Run with hydration
This is an absolute must. I don’t care if you’re going ten steps or ten miles, carry.water.with.you. Or place it along the route before you go, whatever works. Do not expect to get out there and wing it because you will shrivel up and die. When it’s hot, you sweat a lot more and basically need constant hydration. My camelbak is a lifesaver and one of the best investments I’ve made. I know some people run with bottle belts, handheld bottles, etc. Find what works for you and drink up!
3. S.l.o.w d.o.w.n. and shorten it
Your pace will plummet when it is hot. Don’t expect to run the race of your life when the temps are 90+. Your pace will be significantly slower (minutes/mile) when running in the heat, simply because it takes more effort. I’ve been told that training in the heat for a cooler race is like opening a gift on race day. Also, there is no need for you to suffer through 20+ mile runs in hell. Keep the distances short, because again, your pace will be slower. If you have to go the high mileage route and absolutely must run outside, try to do a few miles outside and then take the rest inside to the treadmill.
4. Run in the shade
I usually run on the sidewalk or in the street, but today I ran on the grass under a series of trees, simply because there was shade there. Having the sun beat down on you will make your already stifling run borderline unbearable, so try to find any shade you can.
If you have to run in the sun, slather on the sunblock. Don’t be shy, butter yourself up. I can tell you from personal experience that being burned to a crisp is absolutely no fun and quite painful. Try to find a sport kind because you’ll be sweating up a storm and again, look for the shade. Don’t spend more time in the direct sunlight than necessary.
6. Be aware
Running in the heat is obviously more risky, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Try to run a route you know and forego the music. If you need your tunes, try to keep them on low. The weather can dull your senses and reaction time and it’s important to keep your guard up. This is good running practice in general as well.
7. Time it right
My summer runs either have to be early in the morning (ha!) or late in the evening, when the temperatures are comparatively cooler. I will never, never go out running at high noon, mostly because I can’t, but also because it’s much smarter to run when the sun and temps are low.
Running should feel a bit uncomfortable at times, but if you start feeling dizzy, nauseous, dehydrated, with headache, like you’re going to pass out, etc., GET OUT OF THE HEAT. The hot weather can be downright dangerous and it’s not worth risking your life for the sake of “getting your run in.” If all else fails, there’s always the treadmill.
Heat doesn’t have to put a halt on your running (unlike lightning), and with these tips, I’ve had good luck so far. It’s July and I live in South Carolina, so I think it’s pretty safe to assume it’s going to be hot, hot, hot at least for a couple more months. Any other tips to add?