Thursday, June 25, 2015

How to Run in the Heat and Not Die

Quiet! Did you hear that? It’s the sound of runners complaining about the heat. Six months ago it was about the cold. We certainly are a predictable bunch of cyclical whiners, myself included.

photo (23)

Whine and moan all you like but be smart. Don’t take the heat lightly. Here are some tips to keep you running outside even in the hottest months.

  1. Run at 1:00 a.m.
  2. Steal a coffin from the local funeral home and fill it with ice. Plant it somewhere along your run for when you get overheated. I think ultra runner, Scott Jurek, did this at Badwater, so it is the hip thing to do.
  3. Soak your underwear in cold water, then freeze it. Wear it for your next run. Or, just stick ice packs down your pants.

In all seriousness, here are some tricks to try before you just shut up and run:

  1. Strip down. Wear as few clothes as you can without being arrested. Wear light colored, loose, wicking clothing.
  2. Run first thing, or after the sun starts to set. Avoid getting out there between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  3. Adjust your pace. Slow the heck down. Ideal running temperatures range from 50º-55º. For every five degrees above that, your performance can degrade 2%.  This means that if you are running in 75º  heat, your pace could slow up to 10%! Humidity might make it even worse. Don’t expect you can or will perform the same in the heat (from a study done at Team Oregon).
  4. Do 6 every 15. Try to take in at least 6 ounces of liquid (not including Bud Light) for every 15 minutes of running. Plan your routes where you can replenish your water, or hide it along the way.
  5. Think trees. Or, big buildings. Try to plan your route to include the most shade possible.
  6. Skip the beans and peanut butter. Avoid excess protein intake before and during the run. Protein metabolism produces extra heat (source).
  7. Run with your down coat. If you are planning a race in a hot and/or humid climate, try to acclimate first by mimicking race conditions the best you can. To develop and maintain acclimatization for a race in a warmer climate, assume that each layer of dry clothing or degree of coverage, (i.e. going from short to long sleeved shirt or from shorts to tights), is equivalent to 15 or 20 degrees in temperature (source).
  8. Replenish lost fluids and electrolytes after a run. Some people even weigh themselves pre- and post-run to gauge how much liquid they have lost. If you are doing especially long runs or are running for consecutive days in heat, add salt to foods and select foods high in potassium like bananas.

Where do you live? Are your summers to hot that running in the summer months poses a huge challenge? Colorado is generally pretty cool in the mornings for running.  A run before 8:00 a.m is perfect around here.

Do you have any tips for running in the heat that I haven’t mentioned?

Have you ever been severely dehydrated or had heat exhaustion/stroke from running in hot conditions? No. Knock on wood.



  1. I'm in Southeast Texas where it's freakin deathly hot and high humidity. Good list. I would add to put some kind of electrolyte powder like NUUN in your water bottles.

  2. Things are starting to heat up here in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and I was just complaining to myself about that, and wondering what precautions I should take... so perfect timing!

    The only times I can seem to find for running during the week are right at 4:00 in the afternoon -- the my run on Tuesday in 83 degree weather was miserable. I actually had to stop and walk a few times during my 5 mile stint, which really slowed my overall pace down. Today it's supposed to be 88 degrees, so I'm thinking of carrying a bigger water bottle, and doing an intentional run/walk alternating workout. Today's run is not a "race", so there' s no reason I need to trudge through at "race pace".

    Saturday is supposed to break the 100 mark, so I'll head out in the morning for sure!

  3. Checking in from Richmond, Virginia where heat and humidity reign. I try to go out as early as possible, even though that doesn't always help with the humidity levels (usually it doesn't) and stick to shady routes. This June has seemed particularly hot and I've resorted to carrying a small water bottle, even though I detest it. I can't really add much more advice other than to power through (smartly) and try to acclimate. It sucks for about a month but then it won't suck quite as much.

    I got extremely dehydrated at our first training team run this year. I am a veteran and should have known better, but I did a lot of stupid things (like trying to run my top speed in 80 degree weather with high humidity and not carrying water). By mile 9 of my 10 mile run, I had completely crashed and had to run/walk back. I drank an entire 32 ounce Gatorade and water but was still wiped out and delirious for the rest of the day. Lesson learned.

    And for the record... I rather enjoyed the cold training season and never wished for summer. Not. Once.


  4. In Michigan we get to choose between mornings with temps in the 60s-70s and 90% humidity, or afternoons/evenings with temperatures in the 80s-90s but with more comfortable humidity. I tend to run after work anyway, and even high heat with a low humidity/dewpoint doesn't bother me too much (I think my record for hot running is a heat index of 112).

    I have a regular out-and-back route of three miles to the water fountain, drink and head back. For longer runs I'll take a Gatorade bottle with me. I also lower my expectations and take it easy since I find recovery is harder after a hot run. And if it gets to be too much, I head indoors to the treadmill in the air conditioning. =)

  5. Oh, Raleigh, NC, why must you be so darn hot? I am preparing for the Espeit de She this evening. They have cancelled the 10k since 97 is a bit warm. You think that they would reconsider the date....
    I ran last night and 1.5 miles in I just felt walking would be better.
    I leave for work at 6:15 and 4 am is so darn early.... It makes for a miserable summer.

  6. I'm in AZ. It's only 104 today…we hiked 10 miles on Tuesday in 108 (well it was cooler when we started at 5:30)- but yeah. I usually hit the road around 4:30 for running/biking and the pool by 5 to stay out of all of it. If you workout in it you acclimate eventually.

  7. It was 58 at 5:00 a.m. in So Cal today, so no complaints here. Our worst weather is in the Fall when Santa Ana winds kick up - 5% humidity and 75 at 5:00 a.m.

    My only addition would be try to run a shadier route if possible. And wear a hat! I hate wearing them, but they make a big difference when you are running into the sun.

  8. I am the ULTIMATE wuss when it comes to running in the heat. It sucks the life out of me yet I can't get my ass out of bed early enough to ever beat the heat so instead I complain. I LOVE winter running... because I live in San Diego. :-P

  9. Ha, yeah, I am also the ultimate wuss when it comes to running in heat. Its the only reason I can get up before 6am these days, cause the only thing that makes me grumpier than running in heat is not running at all. Sure feel good when those early morning runs are over though!

    Also, I started using Gu Brew or NUUN in my water and it has almost entirely eliminated the headaches I used to get. I always used to just drink water but now I always have my GU Brew tab in there.

  10. I recently ran a 12-hour race in 91 degree heat. It wasn't my best decision ever. Ice cubes in my compression socks helped, as did ice in the hat and ice in the bra. Also, popsicles...lots and lots of popsicles.

  11. Forgot to mention that I live in New York State, where I sometimes run in 20 below in the winter and 90+ in the summer. I MUCH prefer the bitter cold to the high heat. Someday I will have to come to my senses and move someplace more hospitable to runners and to life in general.

  12. I did heat training on my treadmill last winter in preparation for a March Florida half marathon. I wore a sweatshirt, thermal tights, and a hat. No fan. OMG. It was hard. And I had to DNS the race, but my spring races here in Chicago were amazing after that. Who knew it was a thing?

  13. I'm a copious sweater, as in, a 5-mile run (37-40 minutes) at 85°F will leave me weighing 2-3 pounds lighter after the run than before. This leads to some chafing problems (thank FSM for BodyGlide), but it makes my warm-weather runs less unpleasant than they could be.

  14. I fill a zip loc sandwich size baggie with crushed ice. Put on head and top with baseball cap. It keeps me cool for a few miles during the heat of summer here in Chicago land.

  15. To my great chagrin it's not the heat, it's the humidity that makes my Florida running just no fun. I have definitely learned a lot of tricks to help, but often the treadmill is my friend...and travel!!

  16. I usually run at 4:30 am, yes AM, here in Las Vegas. This morning it was 94degrees at 4:15 am. Sadly, I had to run on my treadmill today. With all the smoke in the air from the CA wildfires, our sunrises have been spectacular... so has my coughing from running in smoke... Lucky for me my route has water fountains that I use to dump water on my head with my hat. That really cools me down. They also have doggie water bowls that you can activate with your foot so I don't have to carry 2 gallons of water for me and my running partner! Stay cool everyone!!

  17. I suffered a heat stroke in London Marathon last year. That was NOT fun. I think it was the combination of having had a very stressful few months prior to the race and lack of training due to injury but the heat really got to me and I collapsed at mile 22. Ever since then I've been a wuss about running in the heat and really careful stopping whenever I start feeling dizzy. And I don't even live anywhere hot haha.

  18. I live in Oklahoma. We can have high heat and humidity from late April through October. My group runs at 5:30 am during the week, year round. We are fortunate to have water fountains all along our paved trails. We also carry water bottles.
    For our long runs, we start running before the sun comes up, we eat popsicles during (water stop at runner's house), and after our runs (keep a cooler in the car). I fill my water bottle with ice, and just enough water to fill it to the top. It keeps my water cold for a while on my long runs. I'll squirt cold water on my head if I get really warm. I can't wear a hat; it causes me to overheat.

  19. At Afton trail race in MN during July, they have buckets of ice water with sponges for you to wipe yourself with--sweet heaven, they feel fabulous!

  20. I live in Dallas. I either run on the treadmill, or have to get out before the sun comes up. I'm only doing 5 and 10ks for the fall, so I don't have to do really long runs, but last year I trained for a July 4th half marathon (went up to Colorado Springs for my 40th birthday) and the last few long runs here in Dallas before the half were MISERABLE.

  21. I live in Kentucky and even though the heat doesn't always get to record breaking highs, the humidity does. I try to get out as early as I can but sometimes the humidity is already outrageous! Unfortunately, I have no tips for the humidity... Just suck it up and get out there.

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