Tips For Running In The Heat Safely

How Do I Run In The Heat Safely?

Running in the heat isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do to make it a pleasanter and safer experience overall. For example, wearing light, breathable clothing and drinking plenty of water will help. You should also slow down and not push yourself too hard when running in very hot conditions.

What Are The Benefits Of Running In The Heat?

Training in the heat is a great way to condition your body to better deal with high temperatures. Running when it’s hot will help to decrease your heart rate, increase your oxygen consumption, and generally get more benefits from your workout.

It is much harder to run when it’s hot, and that means that your body has to work harder. A short burst exercise in the heat can have the same value as a long workout in cooler conditions because your body is having to work harder to keep itself cool.

Many athletes choose to train in hot conditions because this gives them more value for the time they put in. It also makes it easier to work out when you make the switch to cooler conditions because your body will more effectively cool itself and take in more oxygen.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Running In The Heat?

Of course, there are some significant drawbacks to running in the heat, and you should be cautious when you first start doing so.

One of the first problems is that it’s uncomfortable, especially to begin with. Your body will take time to adjust, and you may find yourself getting seriously hot even if you significantly tone down your workout routine. You need a good level of determination and dedication to run when it’s hot outside.

A second problem is that it is very easy to overdo it, and if you don’t know your limits well, running in the heat could be dangerous. There are numerous associated risks.

Firstly, heat cramps, which can be severe and lasting. You need to eat or drink something containing salt, and reduce your workout until your body has had time to adjust.

You may also suffer from fainting, which is particularly likely if you stop suddenly exercising. This can interrupt the flow of blood to the brain and result in dizziness or even passing out.

You might suffer from heatstroke, which is usually a result of dehydration and heat combining to raise your body’s core temperature too high. This can lead to headaches, nausea, and disorientation, so it’s important to avoid this.

Serious dehydration is another issue you need to be aware of; it is very easy to get dehydrated when you are sweating heavily. If you lose more than about four percent of your bodily fluids while running, you’re at risk of dehydration. It’s important to start any run well hydrated, but even more so if you plan to run in hot conditions.

Related: Why Do I Sweat So Much When I Run? How Much Is Too Much Sweat?

When Is It Too Hot To Run In The Heat?

Obviously, there is such a thing as too hot, although what counts as “too hot” will depend to some degree on you, your fitness levels, and what temperatures you are used to. If you are visiting a hot country when you live in a cold country, you will find running in the heat more challenging.

Equally, if you are not very fit, or have health conditions, you may want to avoid running high temperatures. If you’re reasonably fit and healthy, you should be safe to run at up to about 85 or 90° F, but do so with caution, and make sure you shorten your exercise routine.

With conditioning, some people can run at even higher temperatures, but this takes a lot of training. It can take two weeks, sometimes even longer, for the body to adjust to high-temperature running, so don’t expect an immediate result when you get started.

Related: 12 Health Benefits Of Running You Shouldn’t Ignore!

What Should I Wear When Running In The Heat?

Obviously, light, breathable gear is a must when it’s hot outside. Make sure you choose wicking fabrics that will help to pull the sweat away from your body, cooling the skin. You should take particular care to avoid cotton, which soaks up moisture and becomes heavy and sticky, as well as more likely to chafe.

Your clothes should be loose and light, and you should also think about sun exposure. It can be better to choose a loose long-sleeved shirt than a tank top, which will leave your arms in the full sun.

Remember to wear sunblock too, even if you plan to run in mostly shady spaces. A sun hat to protect your face and neck is important.

You should also consider carrying a hydration pack so you don’t run out of water. If you are doing anything more than a short run, this could be critical to having enough to drink. Do not run in the heat without carrying some water.

Is It Normal To Run Slower In The Heat?

Yes, it’s normal to slow down when it’s hot. How much slower you’ll run depends on you and the conditions, but on average, most people slow down by around a minute per mile. Your heart might beat as many as twenty more times in a minute when you’re running in hot weather, so your body is working hard!

Is It Bad To Exercise In The Heat?

No, exercising in the heat can be a great way to intensify your training as long as you are doing so safely and carefully. If you start out slowly and build up your endurance over time, as well as wearing sensible clothing and carrying plenty of water, running in the heat can be really good for you.

Pace Adjustments For Running In The Heat Safely

Pace Adjustment For Running In The Heat

Coach Mark Hadley's with Maximum Performance Running suggests using this formula:

Temperature + Dew Point For Heat Pace Adjustments

Temperature (Fahrenheit)
Temp + Dew Point Pace Adjustment
100 or lessNo Pace Adjustment
101 - 1100% - 0.5%
111 - 1200.5% - 1.0%
121 - 1301.0% - 2.0%
131 - 1402.0% to 3.0%
141 - 1503.0% - 4.5%
151 - 1604.5% - 6.0%
161 - 1706.0% - 8.0%
171 - 1808.0% - 10.0%
Above 180Hard Running Not Recommended ( RPE 7.0 +)

For Example: If the current temperature was 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the dew point was at 70 (typical Texas Summer morning), then the recommended pace adjustment would be between 3.0% and 4.5% slower. If you are scheduled to run at a pace of 10:00 minutes/mile you would slow your pace to between 10:18 and 10:27 minutes/mile.

What Are The Effects Of Running In The Heat?

Running in the heat has some surprising effects on the body. Over time, you will massively increase your ability to sweat, which helps to keep your core temperature down when exercising. Heat training can also increase the volume of plasma in the blood, and – perhaps surprisingly – make it easier to run when it’s cold.

If you run in the heat regularly, your body will learn to adapt and will improve itself to meet this bigger challenge.

Related: 5 Ways To Extinguish The Heat During Your Summer Runs

How Long Does It Take Your Body To Become Acclimatized To Running In The Heat?

Again, this will vary from person to person, but you should acclimatize to running in hot conditions within around two weeks. Of course, if you are slowly working up temperature increments in a controlled environment, it could take longer than that to reach the peak temperature you’re aiming for.

It will take longer to acclimatize to very hot and humid temperatures, and if you aren’t running every day, expect it to take considerably more time. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should neglect rest days!

You need to ensure you give your body plenty of time to adjust. It is going to be making physical changes to cope with the new challenges you’re tackling, and those will not occur overnight. Be sensible and don’t rush your heat training.

10 Safety Tips For Running In The Heat

Here are a few things you can do to make running in the heat a safer, and perhaps more pleasant, experience.

  1. Wear appropriate gear every time. Light, breathable, wicking, and pale clothing is crucial. You should not be hitting the sunny trails in black combat clothes; you will overheat very fast.
  2. Always carry more water than you think you will need. Pause for a drink regularly, and make sure you are hydrated before you start.
  3. Go slowly. Do not expect to complete your normal run or achieve similar times when conditions are hot. You need to be realistic and slow down.
  4. Make a plan: be sensible and plan your improvements, building in plenty of leeways.
  5. Stop running if you start to feel dizzy or sick. Take a break somewhere cool, rehydrate, and stop for the day.
  6. Take regular breaks to cool down and drink water.
  7. Try to run in the shade, out of the direct sun.
  8. Wear sunscreen, even if you aren’t in the direct sun (check out the best mineral-based sunscreens for runners).
  9. Splash water on your face and neck if you are getting too hot. While you want to generate heat and encourage your body to sweat more, this can help to make an intense run safer and easier.
  10. On runs lasting longer than 60 minutes in the heat carry water in a hydration pack (my picks) and a sports drink with electrolytes. You’re going to sweat out more fluids in the heat so stay hydrated.
  11. Listen to your body and do not push too hard. It is dangerous to overdo exercising in hot conditions. Pay attention to signs of exhaustion, and stop before you hurt yourself.

Related: Why Is Running So Hard?


Hopefully, you have found our tips on how to run in the heat helpful! Running in hot weather is a great way to build up your endurance and teach your body to sweat efficiently, but it is crucial that you don’t overdo it.

Approach heat training with long-term, realistic goals, and not plans to get instant results. You need to give your body time to adjust and – as with all training – a slow, steady, and consistent approach is the safest and most effective!

Related: 5 Simple Hacks To Beat The Heat On Your Long runs

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Tips For Running In The Heat Safely

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