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11 Tips For Running In The Heat (When It’s Hot, Hot, Hot)

We may all love a bit of sunshine, especially when you live somewhere where it rains a lot, but running in the heat is TOUGH.

It’s all too easy to abandon training plans or end up running into trouble by being too ambitious. I know, I’ve been there!

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✅ Even experienced runners can be caught out running in the heat. Read on to find out how. I learnt my lesson – when the sun’s out I’m never without my favorite hydration aid!

tips for running in the heat

Here are my top 11 tips for running in the heat (based on five years experience living in a very hot country). Proper hydration and carrying water with me is top of the list!

Hydrate Before You Run

In my view this it the most important tip. If you wait until you start running, it’s too late. You need to be fully hydrated before you set off.

If you have a race in the heat coming up, keep sipping water the day before. Now you don’t need to go crazy and drink more than you need, (hyponatremia is a real risk all runners should be aware of), but let’s face it – most of us don’t drink enough. Dehydration is also a cause of stomach problems when you run. Read my tips on why running makes you poop!

So don’t neglect your hydration. Give your body a chance by topping up your fluid levels in good time before you start to run.

Take Fluids With You

When it’s really hot or for longer runs, make sure you take fluids with you. Sipping from a soft flask or hand-held water bottle can make all the difference when you’re running in the heat.

I like the way you can squash a soft flask in your pocket when it’s empty!

If you’re heading far from home, carry plenty of fluids. It’s always best to take too much. The last thing you want is to blow up half-way through a run, with no water left, many miles from home.

Either stash soft flasks in your race vest or carry a bladder pack. It can feel a little strange running with a pack at first but these racing packs are so light and easy to wear. You’ll soon get used to it and anything is better than gasping with thirst!

The Salomon race vests are incredibly lightweight – you hardly notice you’re wearing one. I have quite a selection depending on how much kit I need to carry for a trail race. My favorite by far is the super lightweight hydra vest. It’s worth the investment!

If you’re on a budget CamelBak’s HydroPak is a neat option. It works for both biking and running.


This Hydrapak soft flask is easy to squash in your pocket when you’re finished hydrating!

Some women collect shoes, I collect race vests! This one’s my favorite!

I love the way this bottle has the extra option for stashing your phone or house keys!

More affordable, this Camelbak is a good option for longer runs when you to carry extra fluid.


Start Off Slowly

It’s best to ease into a run and this is especially true when it’s hot. Start off slowly and you can always pick up the pace if you’re feeling okay.

Running in the heat places a big toll on your body. If the weather has suddenly got a lot hotter, you’ll need a chance to adapt to running in the heat.

Save intense workouts for cooler days or when your body has adjusted to the higher temperatures.

Run In The Early Morning

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Noel Coward

Instead of struggling under the intense midday heat, try and run in the early morning. There’s something very special about hitting the trails before the day starts to heat up.

Running in the evening is also an option but it’s never quite as cool.

Run In The Shade

In summer it’s often best to choose your running routes wisely. Running along trails through the woods on a summer’s day can be deliciously cool. Flogging across sun-baked fields, not so much.

Pick routes that stay out of direct sunlight or head to the hills where it’s often a lot cooler.

Dress For The Sun

Light colors reflect the heat, looser fitting tops from wicking materials will help you stay cool, and think twice before you opt for a skimpy vest.

When the sun’s intense, it’s best to cover up. Keeping your shoulders covered is a good idea. Waking up to sunburn the next day is seriously not fun.

Use High Factor Sun Cream

When the sun’s out, I always reach for at least SPF 50 (sun protection factor). Sweat just seems to wash off anything else and it’s just best to go for maximum protection.

This is one of the best sunscreens I’ve found for running with a whopping SPF 70 protection. It’s also water resistant which stops it washing off as quickly when the sweat starts to pour!

Maybe Factor 50 is a hangover from running in desert temperatures but in my view sunburn sucks. Just avoid and protect your skin.

Get Your Shades Out + Wear A Cap

Shades don’t just protect your eyes from UV, they add style to any outfit. Running in summer is the one chance you get to wear shades without looking pretentious.

Add a cap to your running outfit. It helps to keep you cool, keeps the sun off your face, and stops it ruining your hair.


Hot and sunny weather is a good excuse to pose in your favorite running shades! These Bolle ones stay put when you run.

I never run anywhere without wearing a sun cap in summer! This one also come’s in white and it’s very lightweight with a mesh fabric to keep you cool!


Go For Short Runs

Don’t underestimate the effects of the heat. On really hot days it can be dangerous to run for longer periods.

Pick a short running route or take a rest day. Sometimes you just need to be realistic.

Take Your Training Indoors

Trying to fit in a speed session? Assuming your gym has air conditioning, running on a treadmill may be your only option.

It’s a way of staying out of the heat and a good choice if you’re in serious training for a race.

Be Aware Of Warning Signs

Every runner should be aware of the warning signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. When you’re running you need to stay in tune with your body and watch out for signs you’ve had enough of the heat.

Here are the signs to watch out for:

Heat Exhaustion

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale or cold skin
  • Weakness and/or confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dark-colored urine, which indicates dehydration

Heatstroke

The above symptoms and the following:

  • Fever of 104°F or higher
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Lack of sweating
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fainting
  • Seizures

Running regularly in a hot country for 5 years, I could tell when enough was enough. Sense when my core temperature was starting to rise. Lack of sweating or a drop in sweating rate was always a big indicator.

If this happens to you, stop running, find some shade, lie down and elevate your legs, sip fluids. Try and get medical help. It’s a good idea to run with your phone on longer runs – just in case of emergencies.

Once, when I was in my early twenties, I had heatstroke trying to run in summer in Tibet. Fortunately, the friend I was with came from Greece. She’d seen it all before and knew the warning signs.

We were in the middle of nowhere, somewhere on the road from Kathmandu to Lhasa. My friend got me in the shade and flagged down a passing tourist bus to take us to safety.

It was a lifesaver. The severity of heat exhaustion and heat stroke must never be underestimated. I don’t want to put you off running in the heat but just be aware of the dangers.

11 tips for running in the heat
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Running in the cool of a summer morning is one of my favorite things, and when you’re sensible and take precautions, summer running can be wonderful. I hope you find these tips helpful…

Is it bad to run in the heat?

Many runners still run when it’s hot. It’s safe as long as you take precautions – stay hydrated, seek out shade, run slower than normal, wear a cap, take fluids with you and be alert for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

What temperature is too hot for running?

It really depends on what you’re used to. What’s hot for one person is quite normal for another depending on where you live. Avoid running or at least long runs in heatwaves and avoid running in the heat of the day. Runs in the cool of the morning can be best in hot weather.

Is there any benefit to running in the heat?

Yes! Races often take place in summer and, unless you’ve practised running in hot weather, you can be caught out on race day. Run in the heat but take precautions. Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, stay hydrated, carry water and make your runs slower and shorter than normal.

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Rebecca

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

I would also suggest carrying electrolyte replacement capsules or tabs, especially if you are a heavy sweater. When I run or hike in the summer in Arizona, I take one about every hour. It keeps the cramps away. I also carry 2 to 3 liters of water, depending on the distance. Also, freeze a bottle of your favorite sports drink and carry it along.

Alison

Friday 26th of June 2020

Love these tips Rebecca - especially freezing your favorite sports drink! That's one I hadn't thought of for keeping cool on a run!

William Szymanski

Friday 16th of August 2019

What do you add to your water when it is hot and humid? I live in Florida and August is brutal.

Alison

Friday 16th of August 2019

Hi William. I'm sure it is! Most of my hot weather running experience is from Oman where it's drier but hotter (up to 50 deg C in Summer). I've run in quite a few places in Asia with higher humidity. I've always stuck to water for short training runs and reached for salty snacks afterwards if I felt I needed them. For longer training runs or races I like elete. It's tasteless which I think is great for ultra races. Often flavored electroyte drinks end up upsetting my stomach and some of the more popular electrolyte drinks just make me gag. On long runs I can't eat sweet things after a while and a lot of electrolyte drinks are full of sugar. I ran the Hamburg marathon once in a heatwave and got a PB just drinking water all the way round. Fortunately no cramps and the temperature was 40 deg C. Think I was just lucky. I also like the SIS tablets especially the Cola ones. It can take a lot of trial and error finding what works for you. Training in Florida in August I would stick to very short runs outside or find a treadmill in an air conditioned gym.

Alison

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

Yes you just need to adjust and respect your body. Your heart rate is higher when it's hotter so running slower than your usual pace makes sense. Just be on your guard for signs your body has had enough.

Spaceman

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

I ran on a hot day at 1pm and it was 35 degrees. But I ran at a slower pace 9m per mile and for a shorter distance. I need my limitations even though my work colleagues still called me mad.