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Mastering Runs in the Heat: Tips and Tricks for Success

Mastering Runs in the Heat: Tips and Tricks for Success

For this week’s Wednesday column we turn to Amber Nelson for tips on beating the heat. Thanks Amber!

Running in hot weather presents quite a challenge for even the most seasoned runners. As the temperature rises, so does the risk of heat-related issues such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. High temperatures and humidity can quickly sap energy and diminish performance, making sustaining the usual pace and endurance harder.

Luckily, proper preparation and strategies can help you to tackle these challenges successfully. A well-thought-out plan can significantly enhance the overall running experience in hot weather, all you have to do is put a little bit of thought into when you train and what things to look out for regarding training in the heat.

Keep in mind that running in hot weather can significantly impact the body and running performance. That is why it is helpful to inform yourself and get a good understanding of the effects of heat and do your best to implement proper strategies for a successful run. Remember not to be too hard on yourself when your hot runs do not reflect your current training and fitness level.

Understanding the Impact of Heat on Running Performance

Heat affects the body in various ways, disrupting its natural temperature regulation mechanisms. The body heats up during exercise and tries to cool down through sweating. Unfortunately, in high temperatures and humidity, the effectiveness of sweating decreases, leading to an increased risk of heat-related issues. On top of that, excessive sweating can lead to electrolyte imbalances, affecting muscle function and overall performance.

Heat Stress and Its Consequences

Heat stress occurs when the body's core temperature rises above normal levels due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. This condition can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms include weakness, dizziness, nausea, and heavy sweating. The more serious version is heatstroke which is a life-threatening condition characterized by a body temperature above 104°F (40°C) and a lack of sweating and requires immediate medical attention.

How Heat Affects Performance and Endurance

Running in hot weather stresses the cardiovascular system causing the the heart needs to work harder to pump blood to the skin for cooling. This diverts blood from the muscles, affecting oxygen delivery and potentially leading to decreased endurance and performance. The discomfort caused by the heat can also impact mental focus and motivation, making it harder to maintain pace and complete long run which can make your hot runs seem extra challenging.

Hydration and Electrolyte Balance

If you know anything about running then you are likely aware that proper hydration is critical during hot weather runs to replace fluids lost through sweat. You want to avoid getting into a state of dehydration at all costs. Dehydration not only impairs performance but also exacerbates the risk of heat-related illnesses. Maintaining an adequate electrolyte balance is equally important, as sodium, potassium, and magnesium are essential for muscle function, nerve conduction, and fluid balance.

The Risk of Dehydration

Experiencing dehydration can be awful, it occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. In hot weather, fluid loss through sweat can be substantial, leading to dehydration if not properly addressed. Dehydration can lead to reduced blood volume, increased heart rate, and decreased sweat production, compromising the body's ability to cool down. All of these symptoms can be detrimental for a training run or race

Key Electrolytes to Focus On

Part of staying hydrated includes maintaining a proper electrolyte balance. Electrolytes play a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance and muscle function. Sodium, in particular, is essential for retaining fluids and preventing excessive fluid loss through sweat. Potassium is vital for muscle contractions and nerve impulses, while magnesium supports energy production and muscle relaxation. Ensuring an adequate intake of these key electrolytes is vital to prevent cramping, muscle fatigue, and heat-related issues during long runs in hot weather.

Planning and Preparing for Hot Weather Runs

Running in hot weather requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Check out these tips to consider when gearing up for hot weather runs.

Choosing the Right Time to Run

Timing is crucial when running in hot weather. You should try to avoid midday runs if you are running outside in the summer because this is when the sun is at its peak and temperatures are at their highest. Instead, it is a good idea to opt for early morning or late evening runs when the temperatures are cooler and the sun's intensity is reduced.

If you are trying to plan your weekly training schedule in the summer it is a good idea to do early morning runs. They offer the advantage of cooler temperatures. Even if it is still quite hot outside, there tends to be less direct sunlight and a get a fresh start to your day. On the other hand, late evening runs can provide much-needed stress relief after a long day and tend to have slightly lower temperatures as the sun sets. If you are lucky you may even run into a beautiful view.

Considering Weather Forecasts

Before heading out for a hot weather run, check the weather forecast to gauge the expected temperature, humidity, and possible cloud cover. Knowing the weather conditions can help you plan your run more effectively and take the necessary precautions.

Route Planning

One smart move for running in the summer is to plan your running route strategically. Try your best to incorporate shaded areas where possible to avoid direct exposure to the sun. Running through parks, wooded trails, or urban areas with tall buildings can offer some respite from the sun's rays.

You should also make an effort to identify water points along your route, such as fountains or public facilities, where you can refill your water bottle to stay hydrated. It is a great idea to run near or around a lake, creek, or river if it is an option. This way you can get yourself or your clothing wet to cool off if needed, and temperatures tend to be cooler near bodies of water.

In hot weather, staying well-hydrated is paramount to prevent dehydration. If your regular route doesn't have accessible water stations, plan to pass by convenience stores, gas stations, or cafes where you can buy water or sports drinks when needed if you do not want to carry hydration on you.

Avoiding Direct Exposure to the Sun

If possible, make an attempt to minimize direct exposure to the sun during your run. You can do this by wearing a cap or visor to shade for your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Also, consider wearing lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable clothing that covers exposed skin to prevent sunburn and do not forget to apply sunscreen that will stay on even when you sweat.

Adjusting Your Pace and Expectations

Heat can impact your rate of perceived exertion and overall enjoyment of your run efforts. You should be prepared to adjust your pace and expectations during hot weather runs. Running in the heat can be more demanding. It is essential to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. It is okay to slow down your pace and take walking breaks to stay comfortable and avoid heat-related issues. While your training is definitely important, staying safe and healthy should be a priority.


Comprehending the impact of heat on running performance is crucial for preparing and executing successful runs in hot weather. Prioritizing hydration, maintaining electrolyte balance, and being aware of the risk of heat-related illnesses can help you adapt to running in the heat so you can enjoy the sport safely and effectively.

By carefully planning and preparing for hot weather runs, you can minimize the challenges and risks of running in high temperatures. You should always be sure to stay hydrated, choose appropriate running times, and create routes that offer shade and water points to make your hot weather runs more enjoyable and rewarding.

Maintaining your running routine even during the hottest months of the year may be important to you but you should also be sure to prioritize your health by putting thought into when and where you choose to run when the sun is blazing.

Your Daily Dose Of Usain⚡️

Usain going out

Words To Run By 🏃‍♀️🏃🏽‍♂️

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


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