Tips for Running in the Heat & Humidity

WHEW, it’s been one hot week! The temps have been in the upper 80’s/lower 90’s here this week, much warmer than I’m used to running in.

With the heat wave going on pretty much across the entire country, I’ve seen a lot of tips for running in the heat and humidity that’s descending on us all. Here are some of the most useful tips I’ve come across, and a few of my own. Stay cool, my friends!

Tips for running in the heat and humidity.

Eat & drink cool before you run.
Instead of toast with peanut butter, eat cooler foods as your pre-run fuel: Think watermelon (bonus: helps with hydration!), apple sauce, peaches, or try a smoothie. And make sure to sip some cold water, or better yet, eat some ice. Ingesting these cooler foods & drinks can help keep your core body temperature down, giving you a little boost before you even step out the door.

Don’t warm up.
On very hot and humid days, you need to do just enough to loosen your limbs and activate your muscles. This won’t be much compared to your normal routine. Stay out of the sun while you stretch and get ready to go. Or, if you’re just going on a training run, take the first mile easy, and then stop to stretch to loosen up.

Wear as little clothing as possible!
Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to rock the shorts + sport bra combo (something I’ve always dreamed of since my high school days), but if you are—breeze on, friend. (And men—I will forever be jealous that you get to lose the top half altogether.) If you must be clothed, like most of us, stick to light-colored and airy, moisture wicking tanks and shorts. Wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your eyes and face from the sun. And don’t forget that sunscreen!

Good hydrations.
Before, during & after you run—staying hydrated is the most important tip here! If you don’t drink water before your run, you risk starting your workout already dehydrated. If you wait ‘til you feel thirsty, you’re already too late. Don’t make yourself play catch-up with hydration—you’re working hard enough catching up with your running buddies. Drink all day before your run, bring water with you or stash it along your route if you’re going 40 minutes or more, and make sure to rehydrate completely when you’re done.

Run with a buddy.
Heat exhaustion can happen quicker than you think. If you have a good friend who will slog out the hot run with you, keep an eye on each other to make sure you’re doing and feeling okay. If one of you feels the other begin to push the pace too much, help reign it back in. You’ll be glad in the long run. (Pun intended, I guess.)

Take your time.
You WILL need to slow your pace down, and it WILL take time to acclimate your body to the heat. Eventually, you’ll be able to get your pace somewhere back to ‘normal’ in the heat & humidity, but it may take you a few weeks, so be patient. If you find it’s too hard or frustrating to slow yourself down, leave your watch at home so it’s not ticking away & taunting you. You’ll be happier when you’re not feeling nauseous or faint at the end of your run. Or, wear a heart monitor and you’ll see that you’re not slacking—your heart is working just as hard (or harder).

Opt for cooler workouts.
We obviously think running is the coolest sport out there, but you can find some ways to work out in ways that are less stressful on your body. Run in the early morning, or on the treadmill in air conditioning. Find a shaded route, or run by a lake or other large body of water to benefit from the extra breeze. Or, just cross-train with some biking, or better yet, swimming.

Run multiple, short loops.
Break up your run into shorter loops of 1-2 miles. Start from your house or car, and end each loop back there. You can take a minute to stretch, catch your breath, and most importantly grab that cold water bottle for a few sips. Then go on your way for the next loop, and repeat as many times as necessary. If you find yourself in the middle of a loop feeling nauseous, overheating, or just unable to handle the heat, the benefit of these short loops is you can stop and make a quick, safe walk back home.

Walking isn’t for sissies.
We all walked before we ran. Don’t forget your roots, kid. Take walk breaks when you need them. After all, everyone else is inside in the air conditioning—if they see you walking by, I don’t think they’ll mock you.

Ice, ice baby.
Freeze some sponges (or simply take ice cubes) and put them in the top of your hat on your head, or in your sports bra.

Sprinklers=Awesome.
Run through the neighborhood & don’t dodge those sprinkler systems that encroach on your sidewalk. Embrace them! Just don’t bark and chase your tail in circles around them.

Cool down after your run.
I already said you don’t need to warm up before a run, but post-run, it might be a good idea to take five minutes to walk and get your heart rate back to normal. You don’t want to shock your body with that sweet, sweet air conditioning. Or do you?

Eat ice cream.
Okay, I wish this were a real tip. But if we’re running in 90 degree heat, I think we all deserve a little ice cream, darn it. In all reality, a healthier option of a frozen fruit popsicle could be a smart way to help your internal body temps cool back down post-run, and even help to rehydrate you a bit.

Let me know:
Do YOU have any more tips for running in the heat & humidity? Please share!

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