Running in The Heat: How To Avoid Heatstroke!
In general, running in temperatures about 95 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot unless proper measures to stay cool and seek shade are made. You’ll know it when it is too hot to run. Running slow will feel like an intense struggle.
Summer is here, which means time for running in the heat! Running in hot weather can boost your fitness, but it also comes with the dangers of heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses.
We want to help you get the benefits of running in the heat in a safe way.
In this article, we will cover what you need to know about running in the heat and how to avoid heatstroke.
So, let’s go!
How does running in the heat affect you?
Running in the heat makes your body work extra hard to keep cool. This requires an elevated need for oxygen to flow to the skin to keep it cool AND also to our working muscles. This increased oxygen need elevates our heart rate.
If it is also humid outside, your body needs to work even harder because the sweat isn’t evaporating, which raises our body temperature even more.
What heat is too hot to run in?
In general, running in temperatures about 95 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot unless proper measures to stay cool and seek shade are made.
You’ll know it when it is too hot to run.
Running slow will feel like an intense struggle.
Can you get sick from running in the heat?
Yes, you can get sick from running in the heat with exercise-related heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion is when your body temperature rises above normal. It is the precursor to more serious heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that happens when your core body temperature reaches 104 Fahrenheit or higher. It requires immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage to your brain and other vital organs that can result in death.
If you are struggling running in the heat, listen to your body.
Cut your run short or scale back the intensity.
Here are the symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion:
- Cramps or muscle spasms
- Fast or weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Extreme fatigue
- Skin that feels cold and clammy or hot and dry
Is running in hot weather better?
Summer running in hot weather coupled with humidity can make you fitter over time as it may have similar effects as training at altitude.
Running in the heat and humidity taxes your cardiovascular system making your heart stronger and your body better at utilizing oxygen.
This improves your running economy so that when the temperatures cool, you can run faster with less effort.
Does running in hot weather burn more calories?
Running in hot weather may burn more calories, though the exact amount isn’t scientifically indicated.
Your body is working harder to keep its core temperature cool which may slightly increase the metabolic rate, helping you burn calories a bit faster.
However, this extra work is coupled with slower running, possibly negating the extra calorie burn.
What are some tips to avoid heatstroke?
You can avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion with proper planning. If you are running when it is hot outside, it is not the time to wing it.
You need to dress appropriately, hydrate a lot, and plan your route.
Here are tips for when running in the heat.
6 tips to avoid heatstroke
Get your core body temperature down before you head out by drinking ice-cold electrolyte drinks, sports drinks or ice water. Apply a cold washrag or ice to your neck and back.
Some people like to put ice inside their hat and/or sports bras before heading out the door.
2. Wear the right clothes.
Wear light-colored clothes that are loose-fitting and wick moisture (like polyester). Avoid cotton (which absorbs moisture), dark colors (which absorb heat), and heavy fabrics (which make you hotter).
Wear a hat or visor that wicks sweat to keep your head cool and protects your scalp from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Sunglasses are also key to protect your eyes from sun damage.
Finally, don’t forget a broad-spectrum sweat-resistant sunscreen!
3. Seek shade.
Try to run early morning or in the evening to avoid overheating. Ideally, do not run between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
When running in extreme heat, try to run in shady areas such as trails and greenways. Also, note that asphalt absorbs heat due to its dark color, making you hotter.
A dirt path in the woods is ideal!
4. Slow down.
Running in the heat is harder. Your body is working hard to keep its core temperature down, so your pace will slow. For every 5 degrees above 60 degrees, expect to run as much as 30 seconds slower per mile.
Thus, it is smart to run by effort over pace. Chalk it up as a mental strength day.
Also, it takes about two weeks of regularly running in heat for your body to adjust.
So, it will feel harder in the beginning, but then your body will adapt.
Your body needs water to keep the blood flowing. But when it is sweating so much, it doesn’t have enough hydration for adequate circulation. This makes running feel harder and your pace significantly slow. It can also lead to dehydration.
So, don’t forget to drink water or electrolytes before, during, and after your runs!
- Aim for 16 to 20 ounces in the hours before your run.
- Then drink 8 to 12 ounces when you begin running.
- Drink 3 to 5 ounces every half hour of running.
- Rehydrate with at least 16 ounces for every pound of fluid lost. (Weigh yourself before and after the run to know how many pounds you lost).
Aim to have urine that is pale yellow or clear!
6. Be flexible.
Don’t force a run if it is too hot! Change your rest day, find a treadmill, or opt for an earlier or later run time to beat the heat.
You can also cut your run short, change a workout day, or seek a cross-training activity instead, such as lifting weights, yoga, rowing, biking, or swimming.
Running in the heat can boost your fitness for cooler months if you do it smart!
- Running in the heat, Online publication ,
- What runners need to know about heat stroke, Online publication ,
- Ask the running doc: How can I train and race in the heat?, Online publication ,
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