How to Run in Hot Weather: A Running Checklist

Justin Horneker · May 25, 2020

Summer Running can be tough, it can be harsh and it will be unforgiving.

Growing up in St. Louis, and now living in Kansas City, you learn to cope with the ridiculous humidity that comes from living in a midwest river town and learn how to run in hot weather. Running was always done in the morning, and if you slept in, you were better off waiting until sundown to fit your miles in — we’re talking over 80% humidity most days.

Heat has a large negative impact on both your perceived effort and your actual ability to pace yourself and complete a given run/workout. Check out this tool from Runners Connect to see how different temperatures and humidities can affect your pacing. You’ll be able to see the change in goal pace for any given run distance, pace, and effort level based on the humidity and base temperature.

“Ok; so temper your effort level, got it… but what else can I do to help my summer running?”

Here’s a checklist of things to pay attention to in order to maximize your ability to SMASH every single one of your hot weather runs/workouts!

Checklist: How to Run in Hot Weather

Make the most of your run in hot weather with proper hydration techniques.

1. Hydrate the Night Before

Electrolyte drink + lots of water, that’s how you best prepare for the next day’s run. This means that you might have to forgo those post-dinner drinks… I know that’s a big ask but if you’re wanting to crush a workout you need to make a few sacrifices.

2. Hydrate Before You Run

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aim for approximately 1-ounce of fluids per 10-pounds of body weight at least four hours prior to exercise. If you still feel thirsty two hours prior, 1-ounce per every 15–20-pounds of body weight should quench your thirst. If that doesn’t do it, the National Athletic Trainers Association adds that 7–10-ounces of fluid 10–20 minutes before exercise can help.

3. Chill Out Before You Head Out

Your core temperature is what determines your running performance in the heat; If you can keep yourself chilled before you head out the door it may help with your performance especially on a workout day. Check out this Clinical Journal of sports medicine study which came to the conclusion, “ice slurry (slushy) compared with cold water ingestion prolonged running time to exhaustion in hot and humid conditions, reduced rectal temperature during exercise, and allowed rectal temperature to rise higher before the runner reached exhaustion.”

4. Temper Your Pace

I know I talked about it already but I wanted to make sure it was included in your checklist. The idea is that pace doesn’t matter as much in hot weather, instead you should focus on effort. When you start a workout or run too fast in hot weather you’ll be toast. It will be hard, but you need to drill it into your head that exact TIME DOES NOT MATTER as much in adversely warm weather conditions. The effort needs to feel right in order to accomplish your goals for the day, even if the pace is slower. 

Make the most of your run in hot weather by controlling a slower pace.

5. Consider Doubling

The heat and humidity effect becomes more drastic the longer you are exposed to conditions. So consider breaking up a 70 minute run into a 45 minute run in the morning and a 25 minute run in the evening… or a 50 minute run into a 30 minute run and a 20 minute run. Especially when we hit triple-digit temperature days (or over 37 degrees Celsius for my non-American friends) the elements are unforgiving.

6. Recover, Recover, Recover

The best way to be ready to run tomorrow is to start preparing after your run today. Remember the recovery window; electrolyte drink within 15 minutes post-run, recovery drink (plus 100-300 calories) 15–30 minutes post-run, a proper meal within 90 minutes post run and hydrating relentlessly during this period.

Would you add anything else to this checklist? How have you been handling your ability to run in hot weather so far?

Happy Running! Charge On!

Take on the summer heat with Charge Running! Get live, personalized coaching throughout the hot days to keep you on track with your running goals!

Comments 1

Anonymous · June 13, 2020
Awesome article!

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