a man pouring water from a bottle onto his forehead

Running in the Heat

The Question

This question is from Becky Boston, who's feeling hot:

Becky Boston

“Any tips for running in the heat?”

Our Coach's Answer

Simon - running coach
Simon Loughran - Middle-distance runner and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Athletics Coach

I feel your pain, Becky, and had a good old moan about running in the heat last month. Cue me essentially dishing out the advice that I'm mocking in that rant!

The heat does make everything more difficult and performance generally suffers if you're training or racing in it for much longer than about 15 minutes. Not only do we lose fluids more rapidly in the heat, but blood is diverted to the skin in order to help the body dump heat.

Staying hydrated is obviously important. But that doesn't mean just drinking directly before, during and after the run. Plan ahead and keep a good level of hydration going all the time.

The hottest part of the day is generally midday to 3pm, so do your best to avoid these times if possible. And if you can get out early in the morning or late at night then even better.

Off-road trail runs can offer a cooler climate. Not only do these tend to be shaded, but plants and trees also soak up a lot of the heat that you are trying to to avoid.

Although you will acclimatise, you have to accept that performance will suffer. Running according to perceived effort or heart rate can be more useful than pace in extreme weather (also a useful tip for windy weather or on hilly routes, where pace becomes a poor indicator).

Remember that if you race in the heat, then other runners will be in the same boat. That might not help if you're after a PB, but it can help to know that you're still running (and suffering) with others of similar ability.

Our Member's Answer

Jason from Scarborough reckons a summer off-season could do the trick.

Jason - lazy summer

“OK, it may be too late for now. But for next year you can plan races so that the more important ones happen during cooler weather. If you plan your year cleverly you can make sure that during the hotter months you're doing less running and not pushing yourself too hard.”

A good approach. Longer races and more-intense training are much harder in the heat.

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