How to Run in the Heat

Do you dread running in hot weather? If rising temperatures cause you to instantly focus on how miserable your runs will be, it’s time to rethink the heat. While there are certainly challenges to running in warmer weather, that’s no reason to keep you from enjoying a great run. If you know the proper tips for running in the heat and take steps to prevent discomfort, you may even find that you come to enjoy it. Use the following strategies for how to run in hot weather to make the most of the summer.

Stay Hydrated

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 on your run, such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps and confusion. 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. A hydration running belt that holds multiple water bottles without weighing you down is a simple and effective solution. If you haven’t enjoyed running in hot weather before, this will be a game changer.

Wear the Right Clothes

Next to hydration, the clothes you wear will make the biggest impact on how comfortable you can be 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 running apparel featuring vents or mesh panels to help with breathability. You can also wear a light hat or visor and sunglasses to block out the sun.

Use Breathing Techniques

Proper breathing technique helps you conserve energy, which makes it easily to handle those extreme temperatures. Practice deep belly breathing, which helps increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood in your body. While on your runs, inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth instead of just one or the other. Develop a steady rhythm with your gait, like inhale for two steps, then exhale for one step.

Stay Off the Cement

Sidewalks or streets get burning hot in these conditions. Instead of asphalt or cement, both of which retain heat, look for grassy areas instead. They’ll be significantly cooler, especially if they are shaded from the heat.

Run Early or Late

Temperatures can be cooler by 10 or more degrees in the mornings and evenings. Generally, earlier is better since there’s been more time for things to cool down overnight. However, evening runs are better than those at midday in terms of temperature. Just make sure to use a running light and reflective clothing if you go out in dim or dark conditions.

Plan Shorter Runs

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 types of conditions. Keep in mind that many people think temps around 50 degrees are ideal for running, so when you’re in the 70s, 80s or even 90s, your results are going to be a little less impressive. Slow down your pace a bit in the heat and plan for your runs to be a bit shorter. You don’t want to overexert yourself or potentially experience dehydration. In the hottest temperatures, you may only be able to run for 10 minutes, and that’s okay.

Prevent Chafing

Chafing worsens the more you sweat, which can be brutal in the heat. To prevent this from happening, apply talcum powder or petroleum jelly to your skin on areas prone to chafing. Wearing fitted, moisture-wicking clothing with flat seams and minimal stitching will also reduce chafing.

Wear Sunscreen

Hot weather usually means more intense sunlight, so you should be sure to wear sunscreen if you run during peak daylight hours. Choose one that’s waterproof so it will stay on even when you sweat. Ideally, you should wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Know When to Stay In

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 quickly become dangerous. 

However, there isn’t a specific number on the temperature gauge when you know you should stay inside. Some people are well-adapted to the heat, which means they can continue running in high temperatures into the 90s. Others may tap out in the 80s.

If you decide to try going 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 stick close to your house so you don’t have far to walk back if you get overheated.

Don’t let the hot weather stop you from enjoying a run. With these tips, you’ll be able to stay much more comfortable and enjoy a safely exercising in the heat.

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