Running

Running in the Heat and Humidity | Tips and Hot Weather Gear

Running in the heat is both something I love and loathe. There’s that satisfaction of a good sweat and the frustration of not being able to hit certain paces because the body is working so much harder.

As your core body temperature rises, your heart rate rises which not only increases the perceive effort, but the true effort required by your body to maintain a pace.

And remember that your perception of the temperature will rise quickly in the first 20 minutes of running. This phenomenon in the winter helps you enjoy a 40 degree day because it feels like 60, but in the summer means you have to truly pay attention to the starting temp to prevent overheating.

After many years of training in Miami, I formed a reluctant truce with running in the heat and humidity.

While we’ll never be best friends, I’ve learned what works to get us through the tougher months summer of runner.

How to Prepare for Running in the Heat?

Over a period of a few weeks your body will begin to adapt to running in the warmer temperatures while that adaptation is happening, there are a few things you can do to help:

  • avoid dehydration – stay on top of your electrolytes
  • keep your paces on the easy side while the body is adapting
  • stop running anytime you are getting dizzy, feel like you are burning up or lightheaded these are steps to heatstroke
  • Follow the 12 tips listed below for running in the heat, they WILL HELP
  • And yes fix your mindset because running is mental and if you think it’s going to suck, you’ll prove yourself right

Change Your Mindset Around Summer Running

Awhile back on Facebook, I put out the question “what do you like about summer running?”

This was caveated by the fact that I listened to people whine about winter for months, so surely something must have appealed to them about the new season…

I got one response that I admit has just stuck in my craw:

Nothing”.

When prodded to find something positive because I believe that would at least make the summer bearable for this person, it just turned in to an ongoing debate of why summer is awful.
Why we need to embrace the struggle

Here’s the thing, you can’t change the weather, you can’t change your location, being outdoors is all kinds of good for us…so why not just get down and dirty with it.

Sweat your buns off, come home dripping, run through sprinklers and realize that wishing for another season means you are always missing out on what’s here.

  1. Embrace that this is a different period of training
  2. Embrace that some runs are going to be harder
  3. Know that running in the heat makes you faster

You GET to run.

You know running in a mental sport.

Might as well set your mind to be focused on enjoying this time. It’s not going away, happens every year.

Why I’m embracing the struggle of summer running (plus tips to make it easier) Click To Tweet

8 Running in the Heat Benefits

Thus to really try and change their minds, I came up with running in hot weather benefits.

Consider these your summer running mental goals.

  1. Hot weather runs are going to make you so fast in the Fall!
  2. “if you need to drop weight fast (Lose 4 Pounds in 12 Minutes!), it’s the best way to do so, with the exception of eating three-days-in-the-sun potato salad.” – Per Ted Spiker of RW
  3. Ice baths actually start to sound appealing
  4. Remember this is part of the process to build a stronger body
  5. It gives you appreciation for the perfect weather days
  6. It reminds you to be compassionate for the difficulties others face
  7. Once you stop fighting it, you can put energy in to enjoying the run or finding solutions
  8. It’s an opportunity to practice pushing through the hard moments like you will on race day
…people who have had success in the past, give up during the struggle. They have forgotten the amount of willingness, energy and frustration that they put up building their first company that made them successful. They forgot what a struggle it was, and they don’t feel like doing it again, so they give up or do something else.Dan Martell

Running in the Heat Tips

Honestly there’s nothing that’s going to make it better other than your mind, but I’ve covered that already so let’s look at the ways we can try to help the body with hot humid workouts.

Your body can’t dissipate heat as well when temperatures and humidity levels rise, so you have to hydrate, slow it down and smile your ass off. How’s that for coaching, ha ha!!

But here are a few more tips that can help with hot weather running and running in humidity:

1. Run based on effort, not pace

One of the reasons I like LHR training is I know exactly how hard my body is working and it helps me to put my effort in perspective.

When it’s hot, stop using your pace as a guide and go on effort (here’s a chart to help you understand perceived effort).

2. Don’t underestimate a breeze

While morning running may be your choice if the evenings carry a breeze it may be worth flipping your schedule. This was the case in Miami…though I was too stubborn to change my schedule.

3. Hide some ice up your sleeve

Because the humidity prevents your body from releasing heat you need to get creative with bringing your core temperature down.

  • This could mean running with a cold towel on your neck
  • carrying a handheld with ice water {checkout these options for carrying hydration}
  • shoving ice cold sponges down the sports bra works really well too
  • other folks have great sherpas that bring them iced sponges

4. Invest in visors, not hats

Back to your body needing to release heat, don’t further trap it under a hat. If you like shading your face try switching to a visor, that allows the heat to still escape while shading your face.

If you are going to do a hat, then look for one that has a mesh top and back, again to release heat. Here are a few I’ve tested and like:

5. Create an ice hat

Caveat to the above is if you soak your hat in water then place it in the freezer overnight.

Take it out 5-10 min before your run and let your brain soak in the cool throughout your run. {Hey we know running is a mental sport, so trick yourself in to feeling cooler!}

Or be cool like Deena Kastor and try wearing an ice vest like this one prior to your run, which will help to drop your core temperature and may help you run longer before feeling so hot.

6. Utilize sunglasses for more than your eyes

While this won’t actually make the humidity any better, it can impact your overall run.

As the sun rises and you being to squint, your brain is working hard to help yours eyes, which has been shown to zap your energy…yup it all adds up!

Relax the face, give your eyes a break! Checkout my best sunglasses for running!running in heat and humidity

7. Seek shade

Try to plan out routes that have as much shade as possible if you’re doing longer runs and try to start before the sun comes up.

While the temperature may not be any different, the feeling of that sun beating down on your already overly hot arms, legs and face can make a tough run worse.

8. Pre-load Caffeine

A few different studies have shown that caffeine prior to a run can improve performance without impacting hydration, important in the summer, so go ahead and enjoy your morning Espresso or perhaps an iced latte because you’re focused on pre-cooling!

Checkout these pre-workout drink tips, and if you can’t or don’t do the big c, check out these caffeine free energy suggestions.

9. Wear lightweight clothing

I’ve had numerous tops that seem to become dresses in a long humid run because they soak up the water and stretch! This is not only bizarre looking, but entirely uncomfortable!

A few of my favorite pieces:

10. Don’t forget to smile

Seriously!! Studies have shown that smiling will make you feel better because it’s hard to have both positive and negative thoughts at the same time….plus no one is making you run!

You GET to run.

11. Consume electrolytes

I’ve talked before about the importance of electrolytes for runners, but they become even more important as you are both sweating and guzzling water to stay hydrated in the summer heat.

We know that sweating heavily can lead to dehydration, but combine that with drinking just water and you are often washing your body out of those essential minerals

  • Sip during each mile
  • Gulping high carb sports drinks can lead to stomach discomfort due to the high sugar
  • Drink some electrolytes before starting
  • Drink more when you finish, then you’re less likely to have stomach issues

I also reviewed 10 electrolyte powders to help you find the one that’s best for you, particularly folks looking to go low sugar like myself.

12. Treadmill Time

If you need to do a really hard effort workout then the treadmill might be your best bet. You’ll be able to push the intensity without overheating and that’s more beneficial than having to cut a workout short because you’ve created an issue with heat stroke.

Why does it feel harder to run when it’s hot?

Is running in the heat harder?

Yes!

The heat alone makes your heart rate rise, but with added humidity your body can’t cool down because the sweat never evaporates.

  • HR increases up to 10 beats per minute in humidity ranging from 50% to 90%
  • HR increases by 2 to 4 beats per minute in temperatures from 60°F to 75°F
  • HR increases up to 10 beats per minute in temperatures from 75°F to 90°F

There you have it, you aren’t crazy. It doesn’t just feel harder, it really is more work for your body. With that saidthere’s a reason, I kept up my campaign for us to move to Colorado!

Hey I don’t have to LOVE the struggle, I just have to LEARN from it.

Dangers of running in the heat?

While I am trying to get you to change your mindset, there are still some health things we should be conscious of to be SMART runners.

  • Dehydration can lead to many internal issue, so stay on top of sipping electrolytes while you run
  • If you feel dizzy or nauseous then STOP. You don’t win prizes for hurting yourself. These are early signs of heat exhaustion and should not be ignored.
  • Know that it can take weeks to adapt to higher temps, so start out with slower and lower mileage.
  • Know that people react different to heat. It may bother you more or less than other runners. I often resorted to training on the treadmill when it was 90+ in Miami because that was a safer option for my body.

Is it safe to run in 100 degrees?

Yes. But should you?

If you’re training for a race in the heat then it’s beneficial to practice running in it. If you’re doing short 30-40 minute runs, also probably not a big deal if you can handle it.

But if you’re doing longer runs or speed workouts, consider heading indoors. There are massive benefits to training on the treadmill, so don’t think that you’re missing out.

How do you embrace bad weather running?

Would you prefer a snowstorm or hot/humid day?

Other ways to connect with Amanda
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