Running in the Heat + How to Recognize Heat Stroke

When do you throw in the towel with running in the heat? 

Is it intolerable to you? Or what is your work-around. 

The summer heat is an uncontrollable factor that most runners have to deal with. 

However it can be hard to manage when you are trying to train for a half or a full marathon.

Here are some ideas to help you get through the hot months and help you accomplish your running goals in the summer!

But first...Do you know how to recognize the signs of heat stroke?

Every year, countless runners die from heat stroke or are hospitalized due to heat stroke. 

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. 

It can be one of those things that you think you will be able to recognize but then when it's actually happening you don't realize it. 

Here are some of the biggest signs (taken directly from WebMD) that you or another runner are suffering from heat stroke:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Remember that heat stroke is the most severe form of heat injury. It is usually but not always preceded by heat cramps, fainting, and the feeling of tingling in the skin.

Knowing the signs and symptoms can help save runners lives, prevent brain damage and damage to internal organs. 

(for more information on this please refer to this article on WebMD!)


9 Tips for Beating the Heat in the Summer!

Now that we are refreshed on the symptoms of heat stroke, I do want to make a note about checking the temperature before going out for a run.

During a run, your body will heat up faster and become hotter than if you were to just step outside for a couple of minutes.

You are coupling a high intensity exercise with the heat of summer and you will want to know what you will be facing before you face it a couple minutes down the road.

A good rule of thumb is to add an extra 15 degrees to the temperature on the thermometer. This is what you can expect to feel while running.  That being said, plan accordingly! Don't underestimate the power of the heat in causing miserable runs, dehydration and heat stroke.

Also know when to give in to just staying inside. A prudent runner is one who knows how to beat the weather even when it looks like the weather beat him.


Alright here are 9 tips for Running in the Heat:

1.Beware of humidity! 

High humidity levels are very dehydrating yet sometimes you don’t notice it until it’s too late. If you live in a humid area, definitely focus on hydration. Drink lots of water before, during and after your short runs and focus on getting enough energy via your sports drink during runs over an hour in length. 

Humidity will also make you heat up faster even if the temperature is lower. Plan for this by wearing the appropriate clothes and following the rest of these tips!


2.Plan out your hydration route. 

Especially if you are running a long run!

Plant your water bottles along the way of your route or run where you know there are water fountains. Have a friend meet you at a certain point or even invest in a hydration belt or bladder. If you are running in the heat you are going to need a hydration plan!

 

3.Pour cold water on your head, back, neck, inner wrists, abs. 

This can make a world of difference when you are feeling awful while running in the heat. The inner wrists do sound like an odd spot to pour water on to but believe me, it works! 

 

4.Run your t-shirt through the cold water before heading out on a run. 

This is my go-to when I really want to get out there and run but its on the brink of being too hot. It really helps  you get a couple more miles in.

On longer runs, plan the halfway point near a bathroom so that you can wet your shirt, turn around and run home!

These cooling neck wraps are also SO good! They really keep you cool for hours and are worth the $7-8 that they cost! 

 

5.Wear polyester.

Polyester is light and airy and doesn't trap the heat or air inside like some materials. It's breathable and wicks sweat away from the body keeping you cool. It's also a good protectant against heat rash.

 

6.Run early in the day. 

This is obviously a no-brainer. The earlier you run in the day the potentially cooler it will be.

The hottest times of the day are between 11 and 2pm when the sun is at its highest.

However don't underestimate the comfort level of a 6 pm or later run as the humidity then can be sweltering from all the heat of the day!

 

7.Run inside. 

A lot of runners do not like resorting to treadmills but sometimes it’s the thing that will save your training plan. 

For me, owning a treadmill is an excellent resource for eliminating running in the heat.  I have 7 different treadmill workouts for you to choose from here. 

 

8.Cross-Train. 

Doing an inside cross -training session on a hot day is a great way to add a different spice to the mix while working on your overall fitness.

As a runner used to intense exercise, try some high intensity training videos on YouTube or just get more of an aerobic workout in by cycling on a stationary bike.

Here are some of my favorite YouTube workouts to do as a runner! 

 

9.Lower your expectations. 

Take walk breaks  and go slower. The heat is going to slow you down and that's a fact. So just roll with the punches and enjoy it.

Going slower will allow you the opportunity to re-evaluate your running, goals and life. Who doesn't need a thoughtful walk in the heat every now and then?


Hopefully this inspired you with some ideas on how to handle running in the heat!  


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