21 Tips for Running in the Heat

Running in hot weather is a challenge most of us have to face at this time of year. But, the challenge is worth it. Why? Is running in the heat good for you? I would argue, yes, as running in hot weather can make your body more efficient at processing oxygen. Therefore, it can make you run faster come fall when the temperature drops. I share my best tips for running in the heat like putting ice in your hydration vest or using a cooling towel. 

Running in hot weather
Running in hot weather is tough but these tips for running in hot weather will help!

Related: The Pros & Cons of Running in the Heat

You may be wondering then, how hot is too hot to run? This is an individual question as I have some athletes who live in extremely hot environments including in California Arizona, Texas, Africa, Singapore, and Japan who can run outside in the heat while taking proper precautions like what I list below. For those in cooler climates, running in temps above 70 degrees feels unbearable.

If it is so hot that you feel chills, ill, light-headed, or dizzy, these are warning signs of heat exhaustion and mean it is too hot for you to run. Therefore, what temperature is too hot to run will vary from person to person or even run to run. For example, older women or women who are having their period may overheat faster due to hormonal changes.

Is it safe to run in 90-degree weather for you during this time, maybe not. But the next week, possibly.

tips for running in the heat pin
Beat the heat with our tips to help you run safely & comfortably in hot weather. Stay hydrated, dress right, choose shady routes & know the signs of heatstroke. Pin these tips for later!

What about running in heat while pregnant? A 2021 study found pregnant women are at no greater risk for overheating during exercise. However, you may feel hot or uncomfortable sooner. And you should always listen to the cues your body is sending you while pregnant.

Below I share smart tips on how to stay cool running in the heat gathered from personal experience, research, and my thousands of Instagram followers! Let’s go!

Related: Survival Tips for Running in Hot Weather

21 Tips for Running in the Heat

1. Run Early.

The most common tactic for surviving summer running is running early before the sun is fully up and blazing. This doesn’t mean you have to run at 3 am but you do want to aim to run before the sun rises. If early runs don’t fit your schedule, try alternating so you still get sleep most nights.

2. Run late.

If early morning runs aren’t possible for you, you can also run late after the sun has set. Just be sure if it is dark during your run, to focus on your safety. Read my runner safety tips here.

3. Hydrate early and often.

Hydration is one of the most important running in the heat tactics you can do to stay comfortable and safe. Does water help regulate body temperature? Yes, water (or fluids in general) allow your body to effectively cool itself through sweat. It also allows your body to pump blood to your working muscles. When you don’t hydrate, your performance drops and you risk overheating and dehydration. Hydrate early and often, taking at least 3 gulps of fluid every mile.

4. Bring your hydration with you.

Don’t rely on finding water stops or even stashing your hydration on really hot runs. Instead, bring your hydration with you. I share smart ways to run with a water bottle here.

5. Fill your clothes with ice.

Leverage ice to cool your core body temp. Fill whatever you can with ice including your sports bra, hat, hydration vest, and water bottle.

6. Freeze your sports drink.

Take this a step further and freeze your water bottle or sports drink. Many runners like to have a liquid bottle in one hand and icy one in the other for the second half of the run.

Related: Why You Need Electrolytes

7. Stay on top of electrolytes.

Water is not enough to keep you hydrated especially for runs longer than an hour in hot weather. Aim for at least 400 mg of sodium before you run, each hour that you run, and after you run. Read my full hydration guide here. Fellow mother runners love Skratch Hydration, salt tablets, and Huma gel plus which has both carbs and electrolytes.

8. Wear the right clothes!

Less is more when running in the heat. Aim to wear as little clothing as possible and as light as possible in material and color. No dark clothes and no cotton! Aim for all sweat-wicking fabrics. Don’t forget sunglasses (I love Roka sunglasses!) and a visor or hat.

9. Use a cooling towel.

Up the ante and invest in a cooling towel. These towels stay cool and can easily drape over your neck before you run. You can also use them before races to keep your core body temp down.

10. Recruit help.

Enlist your crew to help you. I have friends who have their partners and kids meet them at pre-determined spots to bring cold hydration and icy towels. The bonus with this is that your kids see your commitment and toughness firsthand—and everyone is invested in your goals.

11. Don’t forget sunscreen!

I would be remiss to not mention that you should wear sunscreen! And if you are out for longer than 90 minutes, be sure to reapply. Aim for sweat-resistant sunscreen like EltaMD.

Related: Derm: Prevent Breakouts from Running

12. Take an ice bath right before.

Here’s a pro tip from those living in ultra-hot climates: do an ice bath right before you head out to make sure your body is ultra-cool. This will elongate the time it takes for it to heat up. Even just a cold shower for part of your body will help bring your body temp down.

13. Pre-hydrate!

You know to hydrate on the run but level up your hydration by pre-hydrating with an electrolyte-rich sports drink like LiquidIV or LMNT. Get my top sports drinks for runners here.

Related: An RD’s Hydration Guide for Runners

tips for running in the heat pin
Beat the heat with our tips to help you run safely & comfortably in hot weather. Stay hydrated, dress right, choose shady routes & know the signs of heatstroke. Pin these tips for later!

14. Seek shade.

Change your route so that you are running in the shade for most of your miles. On hot summer days, I head out to a nearby greenway where the temp is several degrees lower thanks to the trees.

15. Run by effort.

Remember that your body is working harder running in the heat—so run by effort over pace. Your body will naturally run slower when it is hot (even just above 55 degrees). If you have a pace-specific workout or race, use a heat calculator to adjust your paces or stick to the same rate of perceived exertion. Learn more about how to run by RPE here.

16. Run shorter.

If you had a set mileage to hit on a really hot day, consider shortening your run or running for time instead. If is boiling and you had an 18 miler on the schedule, consider moving your long run and doing a shakeout instead. You can also break up your run into two separate runs to limit your risk of overheating.

Related: Is It Ok to Split Up Your Long Run?

17. Take walk breaks.

Walking is A-ok when running in hot weather as it can allow you to keep your heart rate down, run for longer, and adequately hydrate. You can walk as needed or for a predetermined interval like every 10 minutes.

running in the heat tips post
Smart tips for running in the heat include pre-hydrating and leveraging ice!

18. Set new goals.

Set new goals for running in the heat. This may be focusing on your turnover or form instead of speed and endurance, for example. Or you can focus on your power by doing short hill sprints instead of that long tempo that would have left you completely gassed.

Related: Summer Maintenance Plan for Runners

19. Do treadmill runs.

Don’t forget the treadmill is a terrific tool for runners. If it is simply too hot to run outside, or you don’t want to have to alter your workout, invest in a treadmill or get a day pass at a local gym to use this tool so you can stay consistent.

Related: 6 Treadmill Workouts for Runners

20. Be patient and consistent.

It can take one to two weeks of consistent running for your body to start making the physiological changes necessary to be efficient running in the heat. Stay with it and remember that the discomfort is worth it: it is making you an oxygen-efficient beast who will be better mentally and physically for it in the long run.

21. Listen to your body.

That said, listen to your body. If anything feels off when running in the heat, walk it on home. No run is worth risking your health and safety!

Follow the Mother Runners for More Health Tips »

If you want guidance with your running goals, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:

 

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