14 Tips to Survive Running in the Heat
Let me back up. If you’re a new reader, Hi, I’m Camille and I really like to run. A few months ago I ran a half marathon, a year ago I ran my first full. Every year there’s at least a half or full marathon in my life, with many races in between. It’s a big part of my life, and I occasionally share races and training tips on this little blog of mine.
It’s been pretty quiet around here with running, and most of my neighbors haven’t seen me in a while, so the questions seem to be arising if I’m still running and how on earth I am. The first answer- I AM still running! I’ve been mixing in more cross-training with the hot months and I’m not currently signed up for a race, but I’m going several times a week.
The second question, how do you do it with the heat? So glad you asked, because it’s taken me about the full seven years of living in Arizona to figure this out, and today I want to share tips for running through the summer and thriving without heatstroke or a headache every day like I used to get!
1. Go early! I am up with the sun- if not sooner. The coolest time of day is just before the sun rises, so you want to bank on that, particularly if you’re in the 110s and it’s only June. We’re talking like before 6:00 you need to be up and at ’em. It’s hard to get up, but it’s worth it, and I’m glad I do it every time and regret it when I don’t every time. That’s why you are missing me, neighbors, I’m home before you leave the house in the hot months!
2. Sunglasses and a hat are a must. The sun beats down extra hard during the summer, and the squinting can lead to headaches and eye strain. You need these during hot runs even if it’s dark when you’re leaving.
BEFORE THE RUN
3. This one has to do with before the run prep. Before you go make sure you put on sunscreen. I know that’s like a no-brainer, but sometimes when it’s dark and you’re groggy it’s easy to forget.
4 Also pre-run prep, you need some extra vitamins when long-distance running and the sun is pounding it out of you. Magnesium is my best friend all summer. It helps with a lot of things, but particularly bone and muscle functions, including headache prevention. When you bend your head to block out the sun you’re more prone to neck pain and tension headaches, so you need this all the more in the summer! Not to mention the sweat that comes and extra loss during the hot season. And can I throw in my 2-cents for metabolism and energy- magnesium has helped tremendously with both!
5. Take an electrolyte or sodium tablet. The loss of electrolytes while running, combined with the extra sweating means you need extra help. Heat stress is reduced by planning ahead! This is my biggest hack for avoiding heat headaches when running in the heat!
And a side note- I usually buy these separately, but I found this awesome bottle that sells both together. One less thing to worry about and one less pill to swallow (literally- hey so that’s where that saying comes from!).
*Side note- they have tons of vitamin/mineral options at Walgreens, and since I literally run right by one on my long run days, they’re a great place to stop and get everything I need to support my runs at a good deal.
DURING THE RUN
6. During the run make sure to realign your posture by stretching hands straight up in the air, over your head. I also like to roll my shoulders about every mile, this helps the stress and tension that can lead to a worse heat headache.
7. If you’re going more than three miles, bring some ice water. Sip it throughout the run.
8. If sprinklers are on, run through them! Be careful not to damage any electronics. But seriously, a little splash of water can make all the difference to cool you down.
9. Wear light socks. This will help with ventilation on the feet, and keep you a little cooler.
AFTER THE RUN
10. Right when you get home be sure to drink a lot of ice water to cool down. However, to balance out the ice water and not throw off your pH balance too much, make sure you get a beverage with electrolytes too. I try to go as naturally as I can, so coconut water, Vitamin Water, or Smart Water are all good choices for me.
11. Stretch! Not just your legs, make sure to do some downward dog to loosen up your upper body. Pinch your shoulders together while you’re in it for extra stress relief. I swear this is one of the keys to avoiding a migraine after some heat exposure. Just a few seconds does the trick!
12. After the shower grab some Neck & Shoulder Rub and massage a small amount onto the neck and shoulder area. This helps relax the muscles that feel extra strained by the heat. You can also use essential oils for this, same benefits in a more natural way. The Tiger Balm is just convenient and I found a great deal on it at Walgreens.
13. Keep some Band-aids around for blisters. My shoes are well broken in, but because feet swell so much more when it’s hot, you may experience some rubbing. Band-aids are a lifesaver in keeping your feet healthy. If this is a big problem you may want to look into going up a size in your shoes.
14. Jump in a pool or a cooler shower after the run. Heat escapes through your head, and cool water helps you stop heatstroke. In AZ almost everyone has a pool, so that’s an easy option. If you’re like me and don’t, look for a cool shower or at least run your head under cool water in the sink.
I know these may sound a little extreme and funny, but really, when your body likes to run long distances in 50-degree weather, getting into the 90’s and 100’s is a tough thing. I swear when I do all of the above I’m able to have a healthy, happy run even the hot Arizona summer.
Anything I missed? Any tips you have that help you survive the heat on a run?
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i will be investing in the magnesium – learn something new every day. i live in ca and run early in the morning also, and its the best time of day to run. thanks for the tips.
You make me want to run to Walgreens and buy Magnesium right now. I'm moving from North Carolina to Florida and I'm terrified about running in the heat. I worry that I won't do it, so these are really fantastic tips, thank you! #client