A blog by runners. For runners.

Running in the heat: common summer running problems


Running in the summer can be dreadful.  The heat slows us down, which can really throw our training plans for a loop. Wearing sunscreen on all exposed body parts and following these tips can help you beat the heat and avoid common summer running problems.

Problem: The hot sun
Solution: Few runners enjoy the feeling of the hot sun beating down on their face. Even when the mercury isn’t too high, direct sunshine can make the temperature seem hotter than it really is. Running on a shaded route and wearing a hat and sunglasses can help shield you from the sun’s strong rays. Running during the morning hours — before the sun rises — is also a good idea.

Problem: I can’t run in the morning
Solution:  As mentioned above, early a.m. runs tend to be the most comfortable ones in the summer months. But not everyone can run first thing in the morning. Evening or nighttime runs can be cooler than midday ones, but the pavement can still be hot after the long day and make you feel uncomfortable. It’s best to avoid running in midday – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – when the sun is at its peak. But if you must run during the daytime, try this: take a cold shower immediately before you run. Doing so will keep you cooler for the first few miles.

Problem: The humidity
Solution: Early birds don’t have to deal with the intense heat, but humidity is often at its peak during morning hours. In high humidity, you may feel like you’re swimming rather than running. Wearing loose, light-colored clothes made of moisture-wicking materials and using anti-chafe balm can help you stay more comfortable.

Problem: Dehydration
Solution: Dehydration is a dangerous condition that’s more likely to happen in the summer months. When running in the heat, you can lose up to a quart of water per hour through sweat. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after a run. Try to drink at least 8 ounces of water during every 20 minutes of activity. If you’re running for more than an hour, drink a sports beverage to replenish lost electrolytes.

Problem: I can’t run as fast
Solution: The heat and humidity slows runners down. Research shows that the heat starts to negatively affect running performance at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. But that doesn’t mean you need to save PR plans for winter. After running in the heat for a week or two, your body will get acclimated to the weather and start performing better. However, you still need to mind weather warnings. Very hot and humid weather hinders your body’s ability to sweat and cool itself. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real threats for runners. If the heat and humidity are too much for you, it’s better to be safe than sorry — hit the treadmill and save outdoor speedwork for a cooler day.

Problem: Sweat or sunscreen stings my eyes
Solution: Wear a hat and use a stick sunscreen — sunscreen sticks are less likely to drip and get in your eyes.

Written by Jen Matz