This post has been one that I have wanted to write for years, and I have no idea why it took me so long to get it published. Is anyone else feeling the summer heat coming on strong this year?
With our gyms still closed in NYC and a large percentage of gyms temporarily closing again around the country, it can be a challenge for many to find the motivation to keep running when your only option is outside in mid-July. I’ve turned to different indoor options to get my heart pumping, but I still have every intention of keeping up my outdoor runs on a regular basis, no matter the time of year.
I’m currently living in Brooklyn, New York, where temperatures rise into the high 90s (it’s scorching this week), but I’m also a Florida native who trained for a half marathon during the summer and early fall in Orlando. I’m no stranger to running in the heat, and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that it takes a little strategy to be able to do it comfortably.
I hope you enjoy reading my tips and pick up something new to carry with you!
Try to plan your runs at the coolest temps of the day.
It’s not always easy to do, but whenever possible, try to aim your run outside of the hottest points of the day. This will usually be sometime in the early morning hours or post-sunset. Just remember to stay safe out there if you’re venturing out in the dark. Running with a buddy is best for this!
Wear sunglasses and/or a mesh or looser-fitting hat.
I always wear a hat and/or sunglasses (I have these and these) that I can run in, but I don’t always wear both at the same time. I usually prefer a hat since it blocks harmful and hot rays that would otherwise be hitting my face. Tight-fitting hats can actually keep your heat in, so those are best to save for the winter time. Instead, opt for a looser hat, a visor, or a hat with mesh material to allow your head to breathe.
Wear moisture-wicking clothing, looser and lighter is best.
It’s said that darker colored clothing attracts the sun, so who am I to argue. So, when running in higher temperatures, go for a lighter colored shirt and running short option over darker. I only run in moisture-wicking material (cotton just seems miserable without any room to move comfortably), and picking looser clothing will allow what little breeze you experience to help cool you off, too.
Don’t skip the sunscreen.
Sunscreen is always important, but this is especially true when exercising outdoors! Not only will applying a good layer to your face and body help your skin from burning, but it will also help keep you cool. And while you’re at it, make sure it’s mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Here is my go-to line for clean, high-performing sunscreen!
Make sure to hydrate before, during, and after your run.
This tip is an obvious one, but it needs to be said. Drink plenty of water throughout the year, but this is especially true during the hottest months since your body is working extra hard to keep itself cool. You can read more about my tips on staying hydrated here and here.
Make sure to drink at least eight ounces of water before your run, and re-hydrate throughout your run as you sweat. Take water with you in a bottle, pouch, or running belt, or consider more options listed in the next point.
Also, any time that you exercise in extreme heat or for more than one hour, it’s recommended to supplement water with a drink that contains electrolytes and 6-8 percent carbohydrates. This tip applies to long distance runners, tri-athletes, swimmers, and those practicing in the hot summer sun for a high school, college, or even professional sport.
Take water with you, or stash it along your route.
I don’t always like to carry a water bottle, and I have yet to purchase something that attaches to me. I couldn’t tell you why. Instead, I tend to plan my running loop around water fountains or stash a bottle of water on my route. This worked better when I lived in the suburbs and put my water bottle in my mailbox as I circled, however, but I digress.
These days I carry my own (because COVID-19), but I used to rely on the water fountains placed by the running loop at our park and stopped by every one on the loop.
Worry about your effort level versus your pace.
Runs outside during the hottest months of year are not going to be the ones where you hit personal records. Please give yourself some grace if your pace slows down a bit, and try to redirect your focus on your effort level. Your heart rate and effort level is bound to be higher in warmer temperatures, so base how fast you think you should be going on how you feel instead of staring at a watch or GPS tracker for the answers. Trust me!
Run in the shade, whenever possible.
This is another obvious one, but I wanted to include it because runs that I have specifically planned out to be in the shade have gone so much better for me. Instead of darting to my favorite end destination, I’ll stay closer to home on the warmer days. I’ll always choose the side of the street that’s shaded, even if that means constantly going back and forth to zig-zag at street lights.
The air is cooler and breezier near water, but since we aren’t too close to it, I take my summer runs to the park. There is a running loop where half of the track is shaded, and I hit the trails in the middle on really hot days for extra protection against the sun. The difference those patches of trees can make on the outside temperature is huge!
Take walking and rest breaks as much as you need to.
This point piggy backs off of the effort-level pacing tip above. Make sure to check in with how you’re feeling during your run, and do it often. If you’re struggling more than you think you should be, you might need to slow it down for a few minutes, take a walk break, or even stop to stretch and regroup. I do a combination of all of these depending on how I feel. I also rehydrate when I feel like I’m pushing myself more than I should be, and I only pick up the pace when I’m ready.
Run through sprinklers or pour water on yourself.
If you feel like you might be on the brink of overheating, there’s no harm in getting a little wet! Pour some water on your head or even try to catch a sprinkler that’s running on your path. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done this before, and it really works well as an instant refresh.
I’d love to hear about any tips you’ve picked up about running in the heat, too. We’re all in this together, am I right? Please leave your best tip in the comments below, and thank you so much for checking in today.
You might also like:
- Running & Strength Outdoor Workout
- Tips For Running The Tough Mudder
- 10 Things You Need to Train for a Half Marathon
- Workout Gear For Winter Running
- Running & Race Recaps Page!
Stay cool out there and talk soon!