It’s that time of year where running in the heat can pose challenges to all athletes who want to maintain their speed and endurance. These long summer months can reach up to 100 degrees with a 80% humidity level. Below are tips to survive running in the heat, however, always listen to your body. If your body is telling you that you need to slow down or stop, go ahead, listen and take a breather.
STAY HYDRATED: This is my biggest challenge as a runner. No matter how much water I drink during the day, it never seems to be enough. I have recently been looking for different types of drinks that have electrolytes in them that I can drink along with water. Here are my top favorites:
- Kroger’s Simple Truth Vapor Distilled Water with Electrolytes: Typically they have a 24 pack on sale for $4.99. I don’t drink these everyday, just when I run. Very smooth and natural taste.
- BodyArmor Super Drink: Packed full of electrolytes, coconut water and vitamins. I use this drink for the potassium to help with leg cramps. They have lots of different flavors but my favorite is the Watermelon Strawberry with Grape being a close second. It comes in at 70 calories but does have 18g of sugar, therefore, I only drink half of one after I run. You can find these drinks in all grocery stores, however watch the Kroger add because they tend to put them on sale for 10 for $10. Sometimes Publix and Target offer the same deal throughout the year.
- BodyArmor LYTE Sports Drink: Offers the same amount of potassium/ electrolytes as the original drink but with less calories. The LYTE is only 20 calories and 3g of sugar. It’s the best all natural sports drink in my opinion. My favorite flavor of the LYTE is the Peach Mango. You can purchase a 12 pack of the Peach Mango’s off of Amazon sometimes for $13 but be aware of price spikes off of Amazon when buying bulk. I paid $13 for 12 a few days ago and now the price is $26 for 12 which you would come out way cheaper buying them by the bottle in grocery stores.
- Gatorade: I only drink this after my Saturday runs because of the calories and sugar that is in each bottle of Gatorade. Still a great drink to replenish the fluids lost during a run. Gatorade now has low calorie and zero sugar sports drinks however I have not tried these yet.
- Nuun Hydration: I recently purchased the Watermelon flavor from my local Fleet Feet store. The small bottle features 10 tablets that dissolve in water. Each tablet is 15 calories and has only 1g of sugar. It is packed full of electrolytes, potassium, and magnesium. Before buying a case of it on Amazon, buy a bottle from your local running store for $7 to give it a try!
Before a run in the heat, it is recommended to drink 16 oz of a sports drink an hour beforehand. Replenish with a sports drink directly after your run to restore the electrolytes lost.
Even with all of these electrolyte drinks on the market, the best thing to cure your thirst is water. I have a hard time drinking just water so for dinner, I put lemon in it to give it some added flavor. There is a lot of benefits to lemon water which I will discuss in a different post in the future.
BE AWARE OF HUMIDITY LEVEL: If the humidity is above 80%, then it’s most likely not a good idea to run. Even at 70%, it can be dangerous to run especially with the temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees. If possible, wait until the sun goes down and the temperature drops by a few degrees. Let’s be real here, the temperature is not going to drop tremendously by 8 or 9 at night but at least the sun won’t be straight up.
- Run in the morning if possible. For me, this is extremely hard especially in the summer when I have to be at work super early.
- If you become dizzy or nauseated or have chills. STOP IMMEDIATELY and find shade and water. Summer running is hard, don’t beat yourself up if you have to take walk breaks to make it through your run.
- Run in the shade whenever possible. Fortunately, the park I run at has a whole section of sidewalk in the shade that I run back and forth on to avoid the direct sunlight.
- Wear light colored breathable clothes.
MAKE ADJUSTMENTS: Don’t attempt a long run in the afternoon/evenings when the temps are at it’s peak. I would love to be able to make it 6 miles in my evening runs but it’s impossible with the high humidity, therefore I stick with 3 and tell myself that I will pick back up the miles in the Fall. Start your run out at a slower pace then normal to allow your body time to get adjusted to the heat. For example, I can run a 9 minute pace in a race but on my training runs I am a 10 to just make it through.
Give yourself 8 to 14 days to become adjusted to the heat. During this time, your body will work to decrease your heart rate, decrease your core body temperature, and increase your sweat rate.
CARRY WATER WITH YOU ON YOUR RUN! Here is the sports bottle I use and I love it. It also holds my car key for me. https://www.nathansports.com/products/quickshot-plus-hydration-flask?variant=20448617234520¤cy=USD&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6P-N7MC14wIVwcDACh1iVwLUEAQYAiABEgJpwfD_BwE
Don’t give up in the first few days when you set out to run in the heat. It will hurt and it will feel nearly impossible, however, your body will adjust. Give it time and your runs will become tolerable.
Do you have any tips for running in the heat? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!