Hot Weather Running Tips

Hot Weather Running Tips

Julia emailed me awhile back asking for tips on how to best run in hot weather.

I’m a wimp and usually head to the gym when it gets hot, but I have run a couple marathons in hot weather and know it’s kinda miserable.  But I did a little research online and found some tips.

AVOID THE HEAT

  • Try to beat the heat – run early in the morning or late at night when the sun isn’t up and the air quality is better.  Try to avoid running between 10-4pm.  Also, try to avoid the runs…  just general life tips.
  • Manage your expectations and ease into hot weather running: it takes about 2 weeks for your body to adjust and acclimate so ease into it instead of   There was a study done in 2011 showing that the longer the distance, the cooler the optimal temperature is for runners {insert massive “REALLY?!” here}.  For female marathoners, that’s about 52 degrees.
  • Do speedwork on a treadmill.  If you have a really tough workout that you want to nail, you might consider doing it inside rather than out in hot temps.  (I usually consider just skipping it.)
  • If you are running outside, try to run in the shade – parks with trees, tall buildings, etc.  Avoid blacktop and also Death Valley.

GEAR UP

  • Wear light-colored loose fitting clothes and a visor instead of a hat.  Loose clothing allows heat to escape and if there’s a breeze, you might catch it.  Wear technical material – no cotton since it absorbs moisture.  Don’t forget sunglasses (that are polarized and protect against UVA/UBV rays) because let’s be honest, everyone looks cooler in shades.
  • Sunscreen!  It deserves its’ own bullet point.  Wear a sports formula made for sweating.  I like to spray my face, gasp for air get dressed and then spray one more time.

HYDRATE

  • Start hydrating before you run – caffeine and alcohol are diuretics so you might want to deep six your breakfast espresso martini.  Aim for 8-16 ounces one to two hours before a run and 4 ounces about 15 minutes before you run.
  • Bring water and electrolyte drink mix or plan your route along water stops.  Another option is to bring cash and stop at a grocery store, gas station or fresh, homemade donut store… for Gatorade, of course.  If you’re running for more than 30 minutes, you need to drink more than just plain water.
  • While running, take in small amounts of fluids every 15 mins – you’ll absorb it more efficiently and you won’t have tidal wave gut where everything’s sloshing around in your intestines.
  • Remember that thirst isn’t always the best indicator of dehydration.  Weigh yourself before you run and after: for every pound of water weight lost, you need to drink 16 ounces of fluid.  Probably not the best idea to celebrate your “weight loss”.
  • Also, check the color of your urine and not just for kicks or because it’s Friday night.

chart the colors of healthy urine

Home Depot color samples aren’t just for painting walls anymore.

  • Pour water over your head, splash yourself with it for an instant cool down.  I did this at last year’s Boston Marathon when it got up to 89 degrees.  #wethairdon’tcare.
  • STOP if you get confused, dizzy, nauseated, stop sweating and get the chills, etc.  Run with a partner and keep an eye on each other for signs of heat exhaustion.  Look out for the signs, like if your partner starts talking about how gross and ugly Bradley Cooper is, you know she needs help.

    Any hot weather running tips or bits of info to add?

    What’s the hottest race you’ve run in?

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58 Comments

  1. Great tips! The hottest I’ve run in was this past Disney marathon, which ended up having a heat advisory (I believe it got to mid-80s). As soon as I heard about the heat advisory I knew I had to take it easier and hydrated a lot more

  2. I love to freeze wet bandanas and wear them around my neck..it’s like air conditioning. I’ve been known to chase a few ice cream trucks, too.

    1. that is a “cool” idea !

      1. Thanks for this great idea! I look forward to it actually being warm enough to try this out.

    2. I read this as “I love to freeze wet bananas and wear them around my neck.” That mental picture has made my day and it’s only 8:44am.

      1. Shannon, I read the same thing!!!!! And definitely started laughing at the visual. 🙂

  3. I suggest hydrating as much as you can the day before. 4 hours before you go to bed, drink at least 4 cups of water. If you can knock out 2 more an hour before you run, you should be able to handle 90-120 minutes without hydrating again in 75 degree temps. (I hate running with water, and there is none on my route.) And I match the good end of the wall paint chart.

  4. Thanks for the great tips! we were just talking about this in our group run on Saturday. Ive signed up for America’s Finest 1/2 in August and was warned that last year was very hot. I’ll be running with my Amphipod bottle full of Nuun!

  5. I found that wetting down and freezing my hat helps to regulate my body temperature for at least an hour. Yes, you look dorky when you first put it on and you need to let it thaw for a few minutes to actually wear it, but it does help you to lower your body temp. Living in GA, 90 degrees at 7a isn’t unusual.

  6. Great tips! Only one thing to add – lower your expectations. Heat will slow you down. According to Jeff Galloway: “When the temperature rises above 60° F runners should slow down by 30 seconds a mile for every 5 degrees above 60° F on long runs and the race itself.” That’s hard to accept mentally, but I think it’s pretty accurate. In January we relocated to Hawaii from Simi Valley, CA {tough life, I know} and the higher temps and humidity have taken some getting use to.

    1. Thanks for this tip … at least it makes me feel better about my slower summer times 🙂 . Summers in Texas are brutal for heat and humidity, and I try to wake up super early to get in my runs, but often on the weekends it doesn’t happen as I plan!

  7. Great tips 🙂 I will keep these in mind for my first half marathon

  8. The 2012 Red, White & Boom half marathon last year in Minneapolis. It was so hot and humid they cut it down to a 5 mile race. About 90ish degrees and 75 degree dewpoint at 7am. It was the most miserable 5 miles I’ve ever run!

  9. Thanks for the reminders! Sauna season has dropped in FL. There are definitely no more mid day runs! Great deal for the sunscreen – heading to Costco now.

  10. Thank you so much. This is very helpful!

  11. These are both hilarious and informative-thanks! Florida heat is not kind, and so I have begun my treadmill running workouts! Also, I really need a Costco membership.

    1. Oh this florida heat is very disrespectful!!!

  12. Great tips. Here in Oregon we don’t have to worry much about heatstroke, but the fueling tips are great. 🙂

  13. Thanks for the tips!! I’m already melting in this AZ heat! There’s a 7.4 mile race in Scottsdale on June 22 at 2:47p…. They are HOPING it’ll be upwards near 120 degrees!!! Crazies!!!

    1. Some folks in my running club are doing that crazy heat race. I said no way! I’ll stick to my 5 am runs here in Gilbert!

  14. I always drink a big mug/glass of coffee before I go running. It’s still liquids, and I think the caffeine give me a boost in my energy levels. I don’t carry water, though I’m going to start during my marathon training this summer when my runs exceed 2 hours in the heat. When I was training last summer in St. Louis when there were over 110 degree days for days, I would frequently stop at the many water fountains along my route.

    I just received an order of summer running clothes that I snagged during a Sierra Trading Post sale, and I got two Brooks D’lite mesh tanks. I had no idea that they were literally mesh and see through! They are really light weight, and look great for those really hot days.

  15. I regularly run in 90+ temps thanks to Florida summers. I wear light clothes, no hats (just visors) and I plan my runs with as much shade as possible. Running in the heat is brutal but you will enjoy it in the fall when your times drop!

  16. I tell my friends to set up their sprinklers and then I run through them.

    1. That’s an awesome idea! We were out cycling last weekend and a couple boys were having a water-gun fight in the street. They asked it we wanted them to get us with water, and we said yes. Then we turned around and had them do it again (smart kids quick ran and got the hose too) — it felt so good!

  17. Thanks for the tips. This post has perfect timing!

  18. Great post! The hottest race I’ve ever done was a 50K last summer in MN. It was somewhere between 95 and 100 while we were running, and I got a mild-ish case of heat exhaustion. When I say mild, I mean that I didn’t have to go to the hospital or anything, but I was extremely sensitive to the heat for the rest of the summer (literally made me feel sick). I am VERY careful now about venturing out on a hot day!

  19. I’m a professional ‘fluid stasher’. My girlfriends and I coordinate dropping group-share sports drinks and water along our route before we start (yes, we’re gross; we share. But hey, we’re Texas running girls, and we’ve ingested each other’s sweaty ponytail-flung sweat, so sharing doesn’t really cross any new boarders). We have been group-stashing for so long at this sweet ‘old lady’s house’ that we actually talked to her family as they were cleaning it out after she passed. They laughed at us — she got such a kick out of us hiding Gatorade bottles in her bushes and coming to retrieve them later — I guess we’re not-so-sneaky-stashers.

    1. that is funny!

  20. When it’s super hot outside and I feel like I’m going to faint I start jumping up and down or skipping! It really helps. These are fantastic running tips!

  21. Awesome tips! I’m spoiled living in the Bay Area, having great running weather just about all year round without having to get up at the butt crack of dawn. I’ll be doing some running in Sacramento this summer, so I’ll be sure to keep these things in mind.

    One thing you didn’t mention…how to gracefully whine about the heat while still busting out a bad ass run 🙂

  22. Thanks for the great suggestions! What gets to me is the humidity! It might not be crazy hot but if it’s humid I really have a though time- NYC gets mad humid in the summer so I was really considering joning a cheap gym for those three months- I hate the dreadmill but I’d rather run on there than faint in the park! Three weeks ago, I ran a 10K with 94% humidity-I sucked at it and felt pretty dizzy towards the end! A guy even fainted afer mile 5. My suggestion would be to stay hydrated all the time- during your runs, start drinking BEFORE getting thirsty! By the time you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated… Believe me, I learned it the hard way!

  23. A+ donuts in LA? It doesn’t count as long as I run there, right? And it still doesn’t count when I stop for all the donuts along the way, for comparison.

  24. Living in this hot humid burning flawda heat…. these tips are so great! Thanks for them. Mmmmmmh stopping for donuts…. yeah I’d be down for that!

  25. Wait, my pee is blue – what does that mean?!

    1. stop doing drugs is what it means.

  26. I am such a wimp when it comes to hot weather and running. Ugh. Summer.

  27. The hottest conditions I’ve experienced were at the Chicago Marathon a few years back. I drank little but often at the water stations and this seemed to work for me.

  28. Did my first hot weather run after work last week, and I definitely felt it. I need to be more aware of my water intake for sure starting now. I sometimes get caught up during the day (I’m a teacher), and forget to drink/eat. I can get away with it in the winter and fall, but during the summer, it’s a recipe for disaster!

  29. Hi! Do you have any running in the rain tips for gear? I am in search of a running rain jacket and would love your input! Thanks!

  30. Last year I ran a 10 miler in 90% humidity and 90 degree temps. The worst is that I made it part of a 19 mile training run. I ended up running the first 9 beforehand and then the race. The key for me was filling up a hydration pack almost entirely with ice before I left home. Then I had cold water the whole first half. Then, at the race, I refilled with more ice from the med tent. I was by no means fast, but I never felt like death that I could tell a lot of the other runners did!

  31. So you’re not running the death valley marathon anytime soon then?
    I thought I was going to pass out two weekends ago at mile 11 of my half. I think it was only in the upper 70s, too. Lack of aid stations will do that though.

  32. I have found that drinking an icey or smoothie or other similarly chilled beverage helps keep you cool because you start with an already-low (or at least not high) body temperature.

    $10.99 for that much good sunscreen is an amazing deal. I might have to get a Costco membership just for that!!!

    I’ve done an Ironman in Louisville, KY, at the end of August when it’s always super hot and humid. My best trick was ice down the sports bra — works like a charm!

  33. I run a lot slower in the summers. My heart rate reaches a higher peak at a slow speed. It sucks, but a lot of energy is put into keeping me cool so I accept it and keep my “A” race either in the spring or fall when it’s less hot.

    Also summer is a great time to catch up on cross training!! Swim swim swim!

  34. The hottest I’ve ran was the Flying Pig Half Marathon. A lot never expected to be hot that day because it was nice and cold the days before.

    Thanks for the tips!

  35. I am used to running in the heat because it gets SO hot here in the South. During the Summer months it feels like you’re running in a sauna , and it’s tough to even walk outside let alone run.

    Unfortunately, I am an afternoon runner so I usually get out there around 5:30-6 and it’s cooled down a little, but it’s still a struggle so I try to hit the gym and run on the treadmill instead to beat the heat!

  36. I’m SO immediately bookmarking this for the minute it stops raining and I can finally get back out to that muggy summer pavement! Thanks for putting all this together in one post :0

    PS: you don’t see nearly enough urine-related charts anymore. :/ lol

  37. Last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon was horribly hot and humid. I’m fairly certain I was at least a little dehydrated even with all of the water I was constantly slugging. Not fun.

  38. Great tips! I feel like I totally bonk in heat and humidity.

    The hottest race I’ve done was the Virginia Wine Country half marathon in 2011 which was also my first race – talk about a tough intro to running! Heat in the 80s plus a course with not much cover from the sun.

  39. Thanks for this great post! I’m going to be moving to South Florida soon and after training all winter in snow and ice of Berlin, Germany, the Florida summers are going to take some getting used to. 😉

  40. I ran an Ultra marathon last summer, in 100+ degree temps & the wonderful aid station volunteers suggested I put ice in my sports bra & that totally saved me.

  41. Great tips (and jokes!). I’ve already done a couple runs in the heat and humidity that is Baltimore in the summer and I feel like my body forgets how to do this every year! I def agree that there is an adjustment period needed for your body to acclimate to the warmer weather. I usually try to force myself to drink extra water the night before I have a hot summer morning run planned. Doesn’t work as well if I try to overload that morning right before I head out.

  42. Great tips!! I ran the Bolder Boulder yesterday, and considered passing out .. Beware the ruffly blue bottomed girl taking a face plant!! Perhaps I should have done the Slip N Slide on the side of the road for a cool down 😉 Thanks for the inspiration!!

  43. I ran a 5k last 4th of July at 103 degrees. Bru-tal!!

  44. I think it’s also important to be aware of overhydration and hyponatremia. It’s easy to drink too much water when it’s hot but even during training runs you can deplete your sodium (once after a summer 20 miler I struggled to get my blood pressure out of the pits for over 24 hours: I kept getting 85/40 readings! And I had to go to work!). Sometimes for long humid workouts I will bring Gatorade or at the very least eat salty, potassium-rich foods later.

  45. Runner-Dont forget sunscreen on the legs! so many people forget to apply it there because many don’t burn there. I am one who hates putting it on my legs because I want them tan BUT it’s not worth it. a good friend of mine is a dermatologist has been seeing more and more cases of melanoma on the legs-especially in woman who are outdoor athletes. the brown is pretty but not always worth it. SPF the legs too!!

  46. Perfectly timed post for my half this weekend, great tips! the weather will be about 100% humidity and hot! I plan on slathering on the sunscreen, letting go of any super ambitious goals and hope to not die:) It should be fun

  47. Great information, and especially helpful for anyone running near the Gulf Coast from, oh, say now….through September! =)

  48. I stay away from outdoor running during the summer as much as possible. The treadmill and A/C are my friends.

    Also, I’m fairly certain if my pee looked like #8, I would worry about a lot more that just being dehydrated.

    I ate a bunch of beets once and was worried I had internal bleeding for a day and a half.

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