Keep It Cool: 10 Hacks for Safely Running in the Heat

Contrary to popular belief, there are some scientific benefits to running in the heat. Whatever your reasons for running under the hot sun, safely running in the heat is possible. Follow along for 10 hacks on how to run in the heat.

1. Bring Plenty of Water When Running in the Heat

Yeah, you probably could have guessed this one. Your body cools itself down with sweating via evaporation. The vapor that your sweat forms carries heat away and leaves you nice and cool.

During a hot run, your body can lose quite a bit of water just to sweat. On the low end of physical exertion, humans might sweat about 0.5 L per hour. That number can go much higher during a particularly hot summer day.

Estimates suggest that you may need as much as 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes when running in the heat. Without it, you significantly worsen your risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke.

Granted, this is an average. Your mileage may vary.

In any case, staying hydrated while running is a very serious matter. Bring more water than you think you will need, and you can never go wrong.

2. Bring a Running Belt Bag to Carry the Water

The reason you need a running belt is because it's the most comfortable and effective way to carry your water. There's a good chance you will feel like drinking two full 16-ounce bottles after an hour's run in the heat. A running belt can help you hold them.  Check out our our hydration running belts.

When running in the heat, you want to go as light as possible. Many people bring a running vest or a backpack. However, these can quickly become suffocating or heavy, things a running belt bag is not.

3. Consistency Is Key

It goes without saying that you shouldn't plan a 10K on your first run in the heat. At the same time, don't space your summer runs out too much. You'll rob your body of the chance to acclimate.

The key to running in the heat, as with many things, is consistency. Think of this as "desensitizing" your body to the heat. It strengthens you, reduces wasted electrolytes, and helps to lower your core body temperature when you aren't running.

Take only a short jog on your first day, perhaps 10 to 20 minutes. Then ramp up the length and intensity with each subsequent day.

Pay close attention to how you feel. If you are getting lightheaded, confused, or struggling to breathe, stop. There is no need to rush things.

4. Bring a Cool Towel

You can never go wrong with a trusty old wet towel. Construction workers use them, and so you should too. This is a cheap, effective way to cool your body off.

Consider getting yourself a purpose-built cooling towel. These work more effectively than a hand towel that you grab out of the bathroom. Plus, it makes for a great way to wipe off your sweat mid-run.

If you like, you can even douse yourself with water when you return. It's a quick and dirty way to cool off

5. Run Slowly

Even if you can run in the heat, you shouldn't be pushing it. Don't treat this like a sprint. Take your time, and settle into a nice, slow cadence.

Pushing yourself too hard exacerbates the same problems we mentioned before: dehydration, heat exhaustion, or worse.

Learn how to control your breathing while you run. Breathing is another one of your body's techniques to manage internal temperature. Breathing through your nose especially, since that's how your body regulates incoming breaths.

6. Consider a New Route

Just because you are going to run in the heat doesn't mean you should be directly in the sunlight. As much as possible, stay in the shade. This may force you to make some changes to your route, but it's worth it.

Who knows, this might be your chance to try that nature trail you've been eyeing. For example, a forest path with plenty of tree coverage. Cities are terrible for running in the summer since the asphalt and concrete stores the heat like a battery.

If you can't find consistent shade, then consider finding a straight route with long shadows. If you run alongside a row of houses or fences in the morning or late afternoon, you'll get some shade at least.

7. Consider the Time of Day, as Well

When we say running in the heat, we don't necessarily mean running at 12 PM. Safely running in the heat includes running at the correct times. It's more detrimental than good to run when the sun is at its peak and the temperature is hottest.

Ideally, you want to run at the coolest times of the day. For example, no later than 9 AM, or no earlier than 5 PM.

This will depend on where you live. But in most places, 12 PM to 3 PM tends to be the hottest part of the day. We recommend against running during this time; you run the real risk (no pun intended) of a heat stroke.

8. Dress Properly

What you wear when you run could make a huge difference in how much you feel the heat.

For starters, make sure everything is lightweight and breathable. Nylon tends to be a good choice since it dries quickly and lets a breeze pass through. Avoid heavier, absorbent fabrics like cotton.

Make sure your shorts and underwear do not chafe. Moist, sweat-soaked thighs are bound to rub together and produce an uncomfortable rash. You can use an anti-chafing stick, or get yourself some spandex to avoid this.

Also, take into account how much sun exposure you will be getting. Sun not only raises your body temperature, but can quickly exhaust you as well.

9. Don't Forget Your Sunscreen

Many doctors would recommend that you wear sunscreen anytime you go out into the sun. This isn't only to protect your skin. Just as the reasons mentioned above, sun exposure exhausts you. Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays, reducing the effect of sun exposure.

Further, you are really going to regret that sunburn if you ignore this advice! Sunburns don't just increase your risk of skin cancer, they will make your next run agony. 

10. Bring a Friend

Bringing a friend offers you a number of benefits when running in the heat. First and foremost, you have someone at your side struggling along with you. It's harder to give up when you are both keeping each other accountable.

You can motivate each other. It's easy during a hot day to decide to skip your run. You will have much less difficulty with someone pushing you to keep up with your goals.

Second, safety reasons. A friend can see that you might be pushing yourself too hard. Conversely, you can make sure your friend does not overdo it.

If one of you is beginning to feel woozy or confused, the other can help. The last thing you want is to faint alone. In the unlikely event of an emergency situation--such as you passing out--they could call an ambulance or drive you to the hospital.

Get Your Running Gear From SPIbelt

Running in the heat is doable, assuming you take the necessary precautions. Make sure to run at the right time of day, with the right clothing, and plenty of water. Stay consistent, get the help of a friend if you can, and slowly build up your heat endurance.

At SPIbelt, we have a reputation for our world famous running belts. But we also make accessories of all kinds. Visit our shop here and find something you might need for your next run.