Tips for Running in Summer Weather

Comprehensive Guide for Running in Hot Weather

Running year-round requires dedication, the right equipment, and precautions to make sure your body stays healthy.

When running in the summer, it’s especially important that your body stays hydrated and as cool as possible. Make sure you are well-equipped and prepared to run in the summer heat to avoid serious risks, such as heat stroke.

The following tips cover a range of best practices for running in the heat of summer, as well as safety tips for preventing heat illness.

Prepare to Run in Summer Heat

Acclimate and Adapt to Running in Summer Heat

Running in the heat of summer requires time for your body to adjust gradually. Give yourself 8 to 14 days to acclimate to hot weather: avoid speed training sessions, and cut your intensity (on your first run, reduce intensity by 65-75 percent).

Slowly building yourself back to your normal pace allows your body to learn to:

Should you need to run during the hot parts of the day (10am-6pm) in your acclimation period, cap your workout at 30 minutes.

Choose the Coolest Time of Day

Best time to run? Before sunrise. Not only is it the coolest time of the day, but your body’s core temperature is also the lowest when you wake up — meaning it takes longer for your body to overheat on your run.

If rise and run doesn’t work for you, try to work out as late in the day as possible (without keeping you from getting sleep). The hottest part of the day tends to peak between 3pm and 5pm.

It’s best to do any sort of speed training in the morning or evening. Hotter temperatures make your heart beat faster, and doesn’t allow you to run as fast.

As a general rule, start your run off slower than usually, and gradually speed up if you feel good halfway through.

Check the Heat Index

Before going on a run, it’s a good idea to check your local weather to see the air quality index and heat index.

The heat index tells what it really feels like outside, and is calculated by combining the temperature and relative humidity. In addition to temperature, humidity on its own can take a toll on your body. If the humidity in the air is high, it can interfere with the evaporation of sweat from your skin and cause you to overheat quickly.

For example, even though the temperature high for the day may be 86, the heat index could be much higher and make for poor running conditions. The National Weather Service issues a heat advisory when the heat index reaches 105 degrees or higher.

Pushing yourself in extreme conditions isn’t worth it — train smart and take your workout indoors if it’s too hot outside.

Best Summer Running Gear

Make sure you have these running essentials before running in the summer heat.

Summer Running Clothes

Light-colored technical clothing is perfect for summertime running. If you haven’t upgraded to technical fabric yet, summer is a great time to make the switch. This high-performance fabric dries quickly and wicks away sweat, making a huge difference in comfort from the weighed-down, drenched cotton t-shirts. We stock the perfect summer running clothes, and can help you choose the best attire for your needs. 

Read: Why not to wear cotton when running

Staying dry keeps you cooler, and prevents chafing and discomfort. Do no wear long sleeves, long pants or sweatsuits on hot days; running in cold-weather clothing on a hot day is dangerous.

Wear Sunscreen on Runs

Choose a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF that protects against UVA and UVB rays, the two most damaging forms of ultraviolet light. Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.

Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you head out for your run, and reapply every two hours after you’re out (even if it’s sweat-proof formula!).

Runners are prone to sun damage, so see your doctor if you have questions about any unusual markings or moles, which can be precursors to melanoma.

Water and Hydration

Hydration before a run is just as important as hydrating after or during the run.

As a rule of thumb, drinking 8 ounces each hour throughout the day ensures good hydration levels; at a minimum, drink 16 ounces of water two hours before you run. You'll know you're well-hydrated when your urine is pale yellow. You’re dehydrated if it’s dark yellow.

On a light run (less than 45 minutes), drinking water is fine. On a run 4 miles or less, you don’t necessarily need to carry fluids.

On a longer run (greater than 45 minutes), drink sports drinks every 15–20 minutes to help you maintain electrolyte levels. On a run longer than 4 miles, carry liquids or sports gel.

After 60 minutes (or sooner if it’s really hot out), your start to deplete vital electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium:

After your workout, you need to rehydrate. If you don’t know how much water to drink, weigh yourself before and after your run. For every pound lost, drink 16 ounces. You’ll eventually get a feel for how much sweat you lose on a run, and how much you’ll need to rehydrate.

Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses When Running

You can stay safe when running in the summer heat by educating yourself on heat illness and its prevention. Read these tips, as well as an overview of heat illness signs.

Map routes for hot days

Running in the blistering sun is miserable. Choose a running route with plenty of shade and spots to stop for water.

Local parks usually have water fountains and tree cover, and neighborhoods tend to have plenty of shade. If you’re in a more urban area, choose a route with convenience stores so you can purchase water or a sports drink. Or, consider creating a loop back to your house to grab fluids.

Running in Numbers

When you head out on a solo run, be sure to:

Running with a buddy is a great choice to keep you active in the summer. Your partner’s energy will keep you going, and running in numbers is safe.

Join one of the training programs at Fleet Feet Mahwah for summer running! 

Your buddy may be able to notice if you’re experiencing heat illness before you do. 

Heat Warnings

Dehydration and heat illness are serious and can be life-threatening, so heed any warning signs of it for yourself or your running buddy.

If you ever become dizzy, nauseated, stop sweating, or develop chills — stop running immediately. Find shade, drink liquids, and find help if your condition does not improve.

Here are specific warning signs, treatment, and prevention measures:

Heat Cramps

Cause: Dehydration leads to an electrolyte imbalance. 
Symptoms: Severe abdominal or large-muscle cramps. 
Treatment: Restore salt balance with foods or drinks that contain sodium and potassium. 
Prevention: Don’t run hard in the heat until acclimated to the weather, and stay hydrated with sports drinks.

Heat Exhaustion

Cause: Dehydration leading to an electrolyte imbalance, usually after several days exposure to of high temperatures paired with an inadequate intake of fluids. 
Symptoms: Core body temperature of 102° to 104°F, headache or dizziness, fatigue, heavy sweating, nausea or vomiting, clammy or pale skin, muscle cramps. 
Treatment: Cool off — rest and apply a cold pack on head/neck. Restore salt balance with foods and sports drinks with sodium. If conditions worsen or have not subsided within an hour, seek medical attention. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it may lead to heatstroke, which needs immediate emergency medical attention. 
Prevention: Don’t run hard in the heat until acclimated to the weather, and stay hydrated with sports drinks.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most severe of heat illnesses.

Cause: Extreme exertion and inadequate fluid intake leads to dehydration, which impairs your body’s ability to maintain temperature. 
Symptoms: Core body temp of 104° or more, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid pulse/heartbeat, shallow breathing, disorientation and confusion, lack of or inability to sweat, fainting. 
Treatment: Emergency medical treatment is needed. Call 911 immediately. Move the person out of the sun to shade or air-conditioning. Keep them cool by fanning, spraying with cool water, and trying to get them to drink cool water. 
Prevention: Don’t run hard in the heat until acclimatedd, and stay well hydrated with sports drinks.

Stay In On Extra Hot Days

Some days will just be too hot to run safely. Work out indoors with a treadmill, or cross-train with a cool dip at the pool (swim laps, or try aqua jogging).

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