6 Tips for Running in the Heat

Tips for running outdoors in the heat and humidity. Tips for runners, running outdoors in the hot summer months..

The temperature here in upstate New York just went from cold and rainy, to very hot, almost over night.  While I’m not complaining because I’m so ready for summer, the heat and humidity can make running outdoors (which I love to do) a little more challenging.

To be completely honest, I usually give up running outdoors in the hot summer months.  I really enjoy it during the Fall and Spring, but I’m not one for extreme temperatures.  I would prefer to workout out at the gym or in my living room on the really hot days.  However, I know there are plenty of people out there who do workout out outdoors, even in the hot months.  With that said, here are six tips for staying safe while running in the heat and humidity.

  1. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.  That’s a tough one, I know.  You don’t have to cut them out entirely from your diet, but just be aware that both alcohol and caffeine (including tea), dehydrate you.  This means you probably shouldn’t go overboard with either, especially in the hours leading up to your run.  It’s so important to stay hydrated when you are running in the heat because you will be sweating a ton, which also dehydrates you.
  2. Drink up!  You should drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run.  In the cooler months you might be fine to just drink before and after your run, but in the hot summer months I would recommend bringing water with you, whether that means carrying your water bottle or wearing a camelback, just be sure you have some water with you to stay hydrated.
  3. Decrease your speed.  When you are running in the heat keep in mind that you aren’t going to run as fast as you could on a nice cool day.  Set your expectations accordingly, and don’t push yourself as much as you would on a cooler day.  It’s always important to listen to your body, but even more so when you are running in the heat.  If your body says rest, listen to it!
  4. Wear light, loose fitting clothing.  Light fabrics, especially synthetic fibers meant wick moisture, are better for hot days than cotton.  Loose fitting clothing allows air to flow through it and around you, proving a breeze as you run.  If you wear a hat you’ll want that to be loose fitting as well so air can move around your head, and heat can be released rather than trapped.
  5. Acclimate to the heat.  When you first start running in the heat you should slow down your speed, and keep your runs to 30 minutes at the most.  Work up to running farther and faster after you’ve given your body a couple weeks to get used to running in the heat.
  6. Find a cooler place to run.  Choose a path with lots of shade, or one close to water as the air tends to be cooler there.  If you can’t do either of those, consider doing an early morning, or late evening run to avoid the midday sun.

Last but not least, use caution and common sense.  If conditions are hotter and/or more humid than you’re used to running in, consider working out indoors that day.  Always air on the side of caution!

Those of you who are avid outdoor runners, what are some tips and tricks you’ve picked up for keeping cool?  I would love to hear some of your own tips in the comments! 

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