It’s August, and depending on where you live, it’s HOT out. It can be a tough time–especially for runners who prefer to train outdoors rather than indoors. Personally, I’ve always had a pretty weird relationship with treadmills. One mile on the treadmill feels like four on the road or trail. Fortunately, we have some great tips on how to run when it’s blazing outside without hating it– and staying safe!
Here are our top four tips for managing the heat and humidity as a runner:
If you can cruise along at an eight-minute clip when it’s cool out, that’s great. But, it’s not going to feel the same in hot weather–especially not at first. The heat affects your heart rate, and you don’t want to push it too hard, too fast. When the weather starts to heat up, reduce the intensity of your runs by about 30 percent and work your way back up to a harder effort.
If your schedule allows for it, run during a part of the day when it’s not scorching hot, especially with the heat index. If you can, run early in the morning before the heat sets in, or go for a night run once the sun is down. Just be careful not to run too close to your bedtime–it can interfere with your sleep. Give yourself two hours before you hit the sack if you’re going to run at night.
Don’t pick a running route that showcases the clear summer skies. Your body will get heated very quickly. This time of year, find a course with trees that are throwing the good kind of shade. You’ll stay cooler, and be able to run longer and faster because of it.
When you’re running in extreme heat, it’s easy for things to go downhill quickly–especially if you’re alone. Run with a friend to establish a buddy system for staying hydrated and keep tabs on one another. If one of you starts to have heat-related symptoms, you’ll notice and likely be able to help one another out before things get out of hand.
Running outside in the heat for several days can be tiresome in the thick of summer. Some weeks, there just isn’t a good break in the hot, humid weather where you can enjoy a cooler run. Don’t be afraid to weave in some cross-training instead of bearing the heat once or twice a week.
Try the treadmill, elliptical machine, swimming (what feels better than a pool when it’s so hot out?), or a stair-stepper. Many gyms even have an air-conditioned indoor track if you want to run but prefer to avoid the treadmill.
Now, let’s follow along with Coach Elizabeth to learn some of her best advice for learning how to run and perform your best during the summer months.
At the end of the day, we can’t control the heat–and the impact it will have on our bodies. But, there are simple things we can do to protect ourselves, run strong, and prevent heat-related problems while still getting our run on. Let’s learn more from Coach Elizabeth.
We are lying to ourselves if we think we can maintain the same pace on a humid 90°F than we can on a crisp 60°F fall day. On a super hot day, you’re just going to need to slow down a bit–every runner has to face this reality.
If you’re running a race on a blazing day, adjust your expectations. You can’t expect to hit your PR if it’s going to be much hotter than you expected. You’ll just end up going out too fast the first mile and hitting the wall early on.
It’s easy to forget that our bodies are made up of about 70 percent water. And, when it’s hot and humid, we lose water SO much faster. It seems to just pour out like a faucet out of our pores–so you have to replace it!
Remember, it’s not all about hydrating during your run. Drink about ten to twenty ounces of water or so before you run. Depending on how long you are running, stop and get some water every four miles or so.
If you aren’t running more than four miles or so and you’re properly hydrated before your run, you probably don’t need to carry a water bottle. If you’re going for a longer run, carry water or make sure to plan in stops where you know there’s a working water fountain.
Pro-tip: Don’t overdo it, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Everyone has experienced that sloshing sensation in their stomach when they drink too much water too quickly. It’s better to sip moderate amounts of a few times water (water that’s not too cold) than load up and have a heavy stomach at the start or mid-way through your run.
If you get to a point where you notice you’ve stopped sweating or start feeling dizzy, DO NOT ignore it. This is a sign your body is in danger–you could even pass out. There are times to muscle through being uncomfortable, and this is not one of them.
Stop, grab some water, a Gatorade, or something similar. Rest for a couple of minutes and take it slow to see how your body is responding to the hydration. You might need to slow your pace down a bit or take a walking break here and there. Just learn from it and plan to hydrate better in the future.
It’s important to keep your body cool before you run and cool it down after you get back inside. Stay inside in a cool place before you run and make sure you’re properly hydrated.
On super hot days, you can use arm ice packs to keep your body temperature down a bit, and many race courses offer ice and water you can drink or just dump right over your head. Go ahead–it will feel great, cool you down–and no one is looking at your hair anyway.
You can also wear a hat and light-colored, lightweight clothing. Hot summer days are not a day to wear heavy, dark-colored running clothes. Plus, a hat will limit your exposure to UV rays, which is always a good idea.
When you get back from a run in hot weather, cool off and hydrate right away. This is the time to sit down with a big glass of water and drink as much as you want. Keep drinking water and other hydration beverages throughout the day to fully rehydrate your body and replenish your electrolytes.
Finally, don’t forget your sunscreen. It won’t do much to keep you cool, but it protects your skin and helps keep you healthy for every run down the line!
Ready to conquer the summer with workouts that get you in the best shape ever? Download the new TRE mobile app today!
It’s full of workouts, coaching advice, videos, and more. Want the full details? Read this post dedicated to everything you need to know related to our new mobile app.