How to Run in the Heat Safely

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Summer is rolling in today with a roar! So what better time to learn about how to handle the heat while running. Here are some tips that will keep you safe and cool while running in the heat.

Tips for Running in the Heat

  1. Run early in the day. This is usually the coolest time of the day and ozone is usually at it’s lowest levels. Second best time would be just after sunset. If you run at dusk or after dark you might want to wear a reflective belt just to be on the safe side.
  2. Take time to get used to the heat. It takes approximately 2 weeks to acclimate to a new climate. During this time keep your runs on the slower side.
  3. Take it slow. Running in the heat is more taxing on your body and overheating is a danger, so allow yourself a slower pace. Listen to your body. See pace adjustment guidelines below.
  4. Hydrate! This one is obvious, but if you are experiencing unusual fatigue either during or after your run, then this is a sign that you probably need more water. A good rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces of water for every pound you lose during a run. (weigh yourself before and after to measure this) If you are going for a long run, you might want to bring a water pack with you. If you’ll be running for longer than 45 minutes you might want to drink a sports drink for electrolyte replenishment.
  5. Avoid diuretics. Caffeine and alcohol increase your urine output and when you combine this with sweating you can be at risk for dehydration.  Watch for hidden caffeine too in medicines, chocolate, and sodas.
  6. Wear light colored loose breathable clothing. I used to think that wearing cotton was the answer, but I have found that on the hottest days, exercise clothing that is made to breathe really does help me stay cooler.
  7. Wear Hat and Sunglasses. Dunk your hat in water before heading out. It will act like an air conditioner as you run. (This is my favorite tip. It works so well!!)
  8. Bandana Cooler. Wet a bandana. Place some ice cubes in a row in the center. Roll the bandana up into a tight tube and tie around your head. This will help keep you cool while you run.
  9. Refuel your electrolytes naturally. Have a banana or avocado along with something a little salty like tomato juice after your run.
  10. Wear sunscreen if you’ll be running in the sun. Use a sweat-proof kind that won’t drip down into your eyes.
  11. Choose a shady route.
  12. Run Indoors.  This addition is thanks to Nick of Fitness Fundamentals! Thanks for this great suggestion!
  13. Choose a route where there is a breeze. Examples are in a park or near the water.
  14. Get Wet! Look for any opportunity to run through a sprinkler or splash some water on your face and head during and after your run.
  15. Take walking breaks. If you feel yourself struggling too much, take a break.
  16. Pay attention to the weather report. Pay attention to the heat index measurement which tells you what the air temperature feels like. (See Heat Index table below) It combines air temperature and humidity. If there are warnings about outdoor activities then consider running indoors at an air conditioned gym or wait until it is cooler. And on the worst heat days, take a day off and do something fun instead -like swimming!
  17. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This can be fatal so you should take it seriously. If you notice any of these signs, you should stop running and either walk home, get a ride home or seek medical attention depending on the severity:
  • Headache or excessive heat buildup in your head.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or a confused feeling.
  • Weak muscles or loss of muscular control.
  • Over-sweating or lack of sweating.
  • Hot and/or cold flashes.
  • Extreme body temperature, above 104 degrees F.
  • Nausea, muscle cramps, vomiting, dizziness.

Pace Adjustment Guidelines

Check out this helpful guide to how much you should reduce your pace in varying heat conditions from Over40Runner.com.

Heat Index Table

Please visit BadWater.com for more info on taking the heat index measurement into account. Here is a table of the heat index values. Any heat index value over 100 is dangerous to run in.

Be safe, stay cool and remember to have fun and smile!

Please Share

Do you have any special tricks that you use to stay cool? I wonder if a mantra could help? Please share in the comments below!

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  1. Ann June 21, 2012
    • Kris June 21, 2012
  2. Nick July 15, 2012
    • Kris August 14, 2012

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