Tips for Running in the Heat

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Alright, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I am a Michigan gal, and I do not like hot weather!!!  We’ve now been in San Antonio for a year, and I’ve come to realize that there are basically three seasons here hot, too hot, and miserable.  Okay, but I’m not here to complain.  San Antonio has plenty of other things to offer.  It’s just this dang weather that makes it fairly unbearable for a cold weather girl like myself.

Anyway, at least us getting assigned here has forced me to do some training in REALLY hot weather, and because of that, I’ve got a collection of tips that I’ve figured out to help when the sun is trying to melt me during my runs!  Growing up in Michigan, I’m a pro when it comes to cold weather running tips, but now I get to share with all of you what I’ve learned  here so that you can still lace up and get out there despite the searing heat.  That being said, when temps reach over 100, personally, I think it’s better to just go for a hike or to run on a treadmill.  No sense in causing yourself to become ill for a single run – that’s nonsense!

Okay, but for you hard core runners who really want to get out there even when the thermometer tells you to stay inside in the air conditioning, I have found some things to help, so let’s get to them!

1.) Stay Hydrated – duh!

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If you’re a runner, or really anyone who knows the importance of health, you know how important it is to stay hydrated.  When you go for a run, you sweat, and that means fluid loss.  When it’s hot outside, that fluid loss is magnified tremendously.  Thus, it’s important to make sure you are taking in enough fluid to prevent dehydration and keep your body functioning at optimal performance.  To do this, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water before your run, during your run, and after your run.  The before and after is easy, but what about during?

When it comes to staying hydrated during a run, of course, you can always carry a water bottle with you.  However, this isn’t always ideal.  When it’s really hot out, I usually do one of two things.  One, I run in areas in which I can map out different places that I can stop and get a quick drink of water at a drinking fountain.  Two, I map out my course, and then drive it and drop off water along the way at different points.  Of course, the second takes a bit longer, but it’s worth it in the long run…pun intended. 🙂

2.) Run in the morning or late at night.

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Obviously, the weather is always cooler in the morning.  Of course, if you’re like me and are not a morning person (at all), you could also opt for running late in the evening when the sun has gone down.  Without that hot sun beating down on you, it is much easier not to overheat.  It’s still cooler in the morning than in the evening, but by changing the timing of your run to one of these two options, you can more easily beat the heat.

3.) Slow Down!

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I know it sounds odd to say “slow down” when it comes to training, but when it’s hot outside, it’s your best bet.  Running by itself is exhausting.  Running in extreme heat is even more exhausting.  When temperatures are high, try to reduce your pace accordingly.  A good rule of thumb is for every 10 degrees it is over 75, reduce your running pace by 45-60 seconds per mile.  In doing this, you will still get a great workout in, and you won’t be forced to stop due to heat exhaustion.  When it comes to heat, slow and steady wins the race!

4.) Dress (or undress) accordingly

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Me at the finish of a race in which it was 85 degrees at the start!

When temperatures are high, don’t be shy!  Cute, huh?  I just made that up!  But, it’s true!  When it’s hot outside, wearing minimal clothing can be extremely helpful.  What you do wear should be light in color and loose fitting if possible.  Hats and sunglasses are really helpful too!

Have you ever heard of the Badwater Marathon?  Temperatures at that race are well above 100 degrees.  In all of the pictures I’ve seen of runners of this race, they are always wearing a lot of white, and their clothes are very loose.  Almost all of them are wearing white hats with flaps along both sides and sunglasses.  Dark colors attract heat, and tight clothing can trap sweat and heat causing you to tire more quickly.  So, don’t be shy – when running in the heat, less is best!

5.) Sunscreen is a must!

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In the summer months (or all year round if you live in a place like San Antonio), when you are heading out for a nice long run, sunscreen is imperative!  That being said, most store bought sunscreens have a lot of very harmful ingredients in them, but don’t worry!  Fortunately, I’ve got a fantastic DIY non-toxic recipe for sunscreen lotion, so you can whip up a batch of this and slather it on before your run, and you’re good to go!  Make sure to remember your lips too!  Use a good SPF lip balm to protect your smile!

6.) Ice cubes can be a life-saver!

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When it’s hot outside, some strategically placed ice cubes can really help to keep you cool! You can wrap some ice cubes in a bandana and wrap the bandana around your neck, or wrap it around your wrists or even ankles.  I will usually stick a few ice cubes in my sports bra or headband (if I’m wearing one) before heading out to help keep me cool.  Really anywhere you can put one where it will be held in place is good!

7.) Plan your running route accordingly

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The last hot weather running tip I have for you has to do with where you run.  It’s no secret that black roads and asphalt attract and give off heat.  Because of this, it is a good idea to try to run on surfaces other than these.  Running in the grass is good, and trail running is great in the hot summer months, because it provides a cooler surface, and there is usually lots of shade, which is another thing to consider when planning your route.  Try to find routes that are as shaded as possible – the less sun the better when it’s super hot outside!

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As you can see, you don’t have to let the heat completely ruin your running routine.  With a few adjustments here and there, you can continue to train even when it’s hot outside.  As I said though, use common sense!  If temps or the heat index is above 100 degrees, it may be a better idea to hit the treadmill in the air conditioning or cross train.

Happy Running! 🙂

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