9 Tips For Running In Hot Weather

Stay safe and get the most from your running

If you ran the London Marathon this year, you don’t need us to tell you how it feels to run in hot weather! Whether you’re racing, training, or simply enjoying the occasional run this summer, our 9 hot-weather rules will help you feel better (and run faster).

#1 It’s OK To Scale Back

You might like to run 5 times a week, but trying to stick to your schedule during a heatwave could do more harm than good. When the weather’s very hot, remember that it’s OK to replace some training runs with other forms of exercise like biking, swimming, walking, or an indoor exercise class. Think about it this way: by reducing the amount of time you spend getting hot and dehydrated in the sun, you maximise your performance for the runs which really matter. When you do run, seek out shade and run on cooler surfaces like grass.

#2 Protect Your Skin

We all know it’s a bad idea to get sunburned during a run – but try not to damage your skin before running, either. There’s nothing worse than heading off on a run with skin that’s already tender. Use sunscreen, and make sure your kit fits well and doesn’t rub or chafe.

#3 Go Slower

In hot weather, going slower is not just acceptable – but could be sensible. Your body experiences the stress of running very differently when it’s hot. Listen to your body and adjust your pace. This goes for training runs and races too. PBs are great, but long term health is even better!

#4 Keep Your Body Cool

Do what you can to stay cool from the start. Wear light running kit made of proper wicking fabrics (not cotton). Keep your eyes and forehead covered (with a peak cap, sports sunglasses, or both). Consider putting your t-shirt in the freezer before you get dressed (it really works!) During a race, grab a sponge from the water station and use it to cool off. And when you’ve had a drink of water, pour the remainder over the back of your neck.

#5 Get Hydrated, Stay Hydrated

Being well hydrated will help your body fight its own battle against overheating. Stay hydrated 24/7, not just when you’re running. Drink plenty of water all day, include electrolytes in your sports drinks, and lightly salt your food. Avoid alcohol the night before a significant training run or a race.

#6 Avoid Diuretics

Alcohol, caffeine and even some antihistamines can dehydrate you. So keep an eye on your intake of these diuretics in the lead up to a long or hot run. If you must have a coffee, make it an espresso.

#7 Too Much Water Can Be Just As Bad

There’s such a thing as drinking too much water, especially if you drink a lot in a short space of time. Hyponatraemia (over hydration) is where excessive water intake dilutes your blood-sodium levels. This is typically a problem during really long runs of 3+ hours, but can happen any time you drink more fluid  than your body can deal with. Symptoms include a headache, disorientation, muscle twitching. It’s serious – so seek immediate medical attention.

#8 Run Earlier

One of the most sensible ways to avoid the worst of the summer heat is simply to run earlier in the day. Early morning summer runs are fresh, cool, bright, and rather lovely. Even if you’re not a morning person, try switching up your routine to make the most of early summer mornings. As a bonus, you’ll be done sooner in the day and feel extra productive!

#9 Know The Danger Signs

Running in the heat can lead to some real problems. Get to know the signs of cramping due to electrolyte imbalance (severe cramps in large muscle groups or in the abdomen), heat fainting which can be brought on by a sudden stop – like at the end of a race – heat exhaustion (where the core body temperature exceeds 38*C) or heat stroke (where the body overheats to 40*C).