Beat the Heat: How to Survive the Summer Running Season

It's hot, y'all. I can say y'all now because I live in Texas, even though I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (where they say yinz instead of y'all. Seriously). It's June, and the heat is on in Fort Worth, TX. Our high temperatures are in the upper 90s every single day with the heat index well over 100. It's only June, and those triple-digit temperatures are coming. So how do I survive the summer running season?

Plan Your Race Schedule According to the Weather

I only run half marathon distance races in the spring and fall because doing long runs in this weather is my personal hell. I plan my races so I never have to do long run training in the heat. I take the summer off from long runs and use this time instead to maintain my running base and work on strength training. Once the cooler temperatures of fall roll around, I start up my half marathon training again. It's good for the body to work in these cycles. Some parts of the year you are working on running endurance and others on strength. 

Time Your Runs Around Cooler Temperatures

Even though it is hot, I know I still want to run. It is those outdoor runs that help me clear my head, work out my problems, and maintain my running base (and sanity). Plan your routes for the early morning or late evening during the coolest times of the day. The humidity is often still high, but at least the sun isn't. 

Plan a Shady Route to Run

Running in the shade can feel significantly cooler than running in direct sun. Plan your route through neighborhoods or parks with trees or building coverage. 

Hydrate Before, During, and After a Run

Hydration starts in the morning and should last all day, not just right before and during your workout. Maintain an adequate level of hydration and then hydrate early and often. Carry water with you, plan your route near water fountains or run in loops so that you can pass your house for water on multiple stops. I often leave bottles of water on my front step so I can grab a drink (or dump over my head) as I pass.

This is how I hydrate on my way to the track.

This is how I hydrate on my way to the track.

Dress Appropriately To Run in the Heat

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, wicking (aka non-cotton) apparel. Wicking apparel pulls the sweat away from the fabric, rather than absorbing it. Run in shorts and a tank top (aka the least amount of clothing legally possible) with a thick layer of sunscreen. I recommend a visor or hat and sunglasses. Do not wear socks made from cotton; they can lead to blisters when you sweat. Friends don't let running friends wear cotton.

Slow Your Pace in the Heat

You need to manage expectations. No matter what your current pace is, you can expect to move a little slower when the temperatures rise. Slow down and pace your run by effort rather than speed. Reduce your overall exercise intensity while you adapt to the heat. Don't worry about the reduced speed, after a full summer of running when fall rolls around you'll feel like a speed demon in those cooler temperatures.

Run Indoors

I know. I know. I love to hate the treadmill too, but please run smart. The hot summers are not the right time to practice outdoor speed intervals or intense workouts. Leave those workouts for the treadmill. If there is extreme heat or poor air quality, it is time to take your workout indoors. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded or experience cramps, goosebumps or chills, stop running and find shade or medical attention immediately! 

Be Prepared

Always carry your phone so you can call a friend to pick you up in case of an emergency.

How do you survive the summer running season?

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