When you picture running in the heat, what probably comes to mind are marathon runs on the 4th of July or 5K races in the middle of summer. Exercising during the sizzling heat may be offputting to some runners, but doing it during hot weather can actually be beneficial for your overall health and performance. With the right gear and preparation, you can make running in the heat a safe and enjoyable experience.
Benefits of Running in Hot Weather
When it comes to running, the ideal running temperature can boil down to personal preference. Some prefer to run when it's cold, and others would rather do it when it's warm but not too hot. Don't knock running in the heat, though, as you can get excellent training results when you run in hot weather.
Several studies indicate that training in hot weather 2-3 times per week for 20-90 minutes per day can produce a multitude of training benefits, including:
- Decreased heart rate at a given pace
- Lowered perceived rate of exertion
- Rapid physical gains
- Increased plasma volumes
- Less salt in sweat
- Better oxygen consumption
- Improved thermoregulation
- Increased cardiovascular efficiency
- Psychological benefits
These benefits result in improved running performance in all temperatures, especially regarding distance running. Also, it will take about 1-2 weeks to start seeing gains from running in the heat.
Drawbacks of Running in the Heat
The primary risk of running in the heat is heat exhaustion, especially when the temperature and humidity are both high. Heat exhaustion can occur when the body's core temperature rises above 104°F. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, nausea, rapid pulse, vomiting, headache, confusion, and dizziness.
See a doctor if your symptoms worsen or don't improve in an hour. Also, if you don't get prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can cause heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition! To avoid heat exhaustion, it's important to keep your cool by wearing the right apparel, staying hydrated and acclimating to hot temperatures.
You Can Run Slower in Higher Temperatures
As temperatures get hotter, it slows your pace, which is actually good for adapting to future races. This is because the slower pace helps you adjust better to that temperature and body mechanics. This result should help prevent injuries and fatigue from the heat, allowing for a better overall running experience.
How to Adjust Your Pace
You can add 5-8 seconds/mile when the mercury reaches 60°F or higher. Therefore, when training during increasing temperature ranges, you'll need to do a little planning to adjust your pace.
Here is how adjusting your pace works:
- When the temperatures are in the 60s, add 5-8 seconds/mile
- When the temperatures are in the 70s, add 10 seconds/mile
- When the temperatures are in the 80s, add 15 seconds/mile
Running in the Heat
When running in the heat, it's important to know your body’s physical needs and realize your limits. Here are some important factors to keep in mind to help you stay healthy and safe while running in hot weather.
When is it Too Hot to Run Outside?
It's important to recognize when temperatures become too hot for safe running. Not only that, there are heat index dangers to consider, too. The heat index is a combination of temperature and relative humidity (RH).
Running in temperatures greater than 98.6°F (32°C) and an RH over 70-80% can put you at risk for heat exhaustion, so it's best to avoid running outside when the mercury rises too high.
You can turn to your weather forecast and monitor summer days when the heat index is too high for a better running experience. Then, you can formulate a plan to run in the morning or evening when it's not as high or stick to doing an exercise like running on the treadmill indoors.
Running in the Heat When You Are Overweight
If you're overweight and running in hot weather, it's even more important to take extra precautions. Studies have found that subcutaneous fat is an insulator, making overweight people cool less rapidly and produce more heat. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids and wearing lightweight clothing, it’s a good idea to bring along some form of shade with you in case you need to take a break and cool off.
Running in the Heat When You Are a Senior
If you are a senior, it doesn't mean you have to give up running in the heat. However, it does mean that you need to take extra care since seniors can be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
Talk to Your Doctor
You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen, especially If you have any medical conditions. Let them know that you will be running in the heat, so they can advise you on any precautions or medical tests you should have.
Also, let your physician know about any medications you're taking. Certain medications can increase your sensitivity to extreme temperatures and could lead to dangerous side effects when running outside on hot days. Medications can also make your skin sensitive to the sun, and you'll get sunburnt if you're not careful.
Tips for Running in the Summer
Even if you take precautions, it's still important to adjust your running habits when running in hot weather. Here are a few tips to help ensure that you're getting the most out of your runs while staying safe:
- Start gradually until your body starts to adapt to the heat.
- Make sure you're drinking plenty of water or electrolyte drinks before, during, and after your run. This will help to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration.
- Monitor your body temperature for signs of heat exhaustion.
- If you can, run on grass or padded tracks instead of concrete or asphalt that reflects heat.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, and breathable clothing, such as nylon. Also, TRUEENERGY® infrared socks are a good choice since they are designed to wick away sweat and keep your feet cool.
- Wear a hat or other head covering to protect yourself from the sun.
- Wear sunscreen (15 SPF or more) to protect your skin from sunburn and damage. Having five or more burns can increase the risk of melanoma.
- Try to find a route with shaded areas so you can take breaks in case you need to cool off.
- The chance of chafing in the summer is higher, so lather on some anti-chafe stick or cream.
- Don't push yourself if you are feeling pain or if you are feeling dizzy or weak.
Working Out in Hot Weather
If you don't want to run in the heat, other options exist for exercising when the weather turns warm. Swimming, cycling and hiking are all great ways to stay fit when it's too hot outside. Pumping iron indoors where there's good air conditioning, or airflow is another great way to stay fit and cool at the same time. You should still take measures to stay hydrated, however, so make sure you bring plenty of water with you.
Get the Best Running Socks for Your Summer Runs
Running in the summer can be enjoyable and refreshing if you take the right precautions. Wear lightweight clothing, drink plenty of fluids, stay in the shade and monitor your body temperature for signs of heat exhaustion. Check out our website to learn more and get the best running socks for your summer runs!
Is it OK to run in hot weather?
Yes, as long as you take the necessary precautions and monitor your body temperature for signs of heat exhaustion.
What should I wear when running in hot weather?
Lightweight and breathable clothing such as nylon is best. TRUEENERGY® infrared socks are also a great choice since they'll help to keep your feet cool and dry.
Can you run in 90-degree weather?
It's possible, but it is not advisable. Make sure you've set your pace, have slowly built up your endurance, take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated if you decide to do so. You should also consult your doctor before running in hot weather.
Can you run in 80-degree weather?
Yes, running in 80-degree weather is much more manageable than 90 degrees. However, it's still important to take the necessary precautions and monitor your body temperature.
What should I eat before running in hot weather?
Before running in hot weather, you should make sure you are well-hydrated. Eating a light snack such as a banana or a handful of nuts can also help to provide your body with additional energy.
Is there a benefit to running in the heat?
Hot weather forces your body to run slower and work harder, which is beneficial in several ways, including increasing endurance, improving speed and strengthening your overall cardiovascular system.
Do you burn more calories running in hot weather?
It depends on the intensity of your run, but yes, you can burn more calories running in hot weather. Your body has to work harder to stay cool, which will increase the amount of calories you're burning.