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The secrets of running in the heat

The weekend in Chicago was brutally hot. I went out for relatively long runs on both Saturday and Sunday mornings and it was tough. On Saturday, at 8:30 am the temperature was over 90F and by 10:00 am when I fininshed 10 miles, it was 93F. On Sunday, I figured I would go out a little earlier. This time I planned on doing a 17 mile run but only made it 13 miles. The temperature at 7:30 am was 85F and by the time I finished, it had risen to 94F! Geez it was hot.

Sweat was pouring off my body and the bean bags I was joggling were drenched. A thing I kept thinking about as I ran were the people who participate in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon. I wondered how they do it. Then I read in the August 2006 edition of Runner’s World tips for running in the heat from these very same Badwater participants. I provide the best ones here and a couple of my own.

  1. Do short runs instead of long runs. There’s no shame in breaking your run up in a few segments. If you’re going to do 15 miles, break it up into three 5 mile runs or even 5 three mile runs. It’s important to log the miles but it’s best to do it without getting overheated.
  2. Wear a visor. A brim is good to protect your face from the sun. It also allows your facial muscles to relax in a way that sunglasses don’t. But wear a visor instead of a cap to allow heat to leave through your head.
  3. Apply sunblock. A sunburn is nearly as bad as chaffing. Put on an SPF 30 at least 10 minutes before you go out. This will prevent you from sweating it off. You might even consider bringing some on your run and reapplying every half hour. These things don’t last forever you know.
  4. Run by a body of water. It’s generally cooler by a body of water like a lake, river, or ocean. If you can swing it, run by one of these.
  5. Stay away from blacktop One of the worst surfaces to run on during the heat is asphault. It captures heat and radiates like an oven. Stick with dirt, sand or even concrete in the heat.
  6. Freeze your waterbottle. While joggling with a water bottle isn’t always possible, if you are just running you should freeze your waterbottle. It will stay colder longer.
  7. Run inside. If it’s too hot outside then just hop on a treadmill and get your miles in. While treadmill joggling is a bit easier than outdoor, it’s better to get your whole run in than just a small portion. I do about 50% of all my marathon training on a treadmill. It works just fine.

Running or joggling in the heat is no fun, but when you’ve done it you’ll feel an extra sense of accomplishment. If people can run across Death Valley or even across the Saharah Desert, a couple hours in 90 F weather isn’t impossible. Especially for a world class joggler.

For more information, see the story that NPR did about the Badwater Ultramarathon.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. The secrets of running in the heat…

    I just found some some cool tips for running in the heat at the Just Your Average Joggler blog (yes, joggler). Have a look, and while you’re at it, learn more about joggling. 1. Do short runs instead of long…

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