Tips for Enjoying Running in a Summer Swelter

Tips for Enjoying Running in a Summer Swelter

Lisa Jhung
Writer and Author of Running That Doesn't Suck: How To Love Running (Even If You Think You Hate It)
June 9, 2023


The dog days of summer may temp you to skip a run and head to a pool, or to the refrigerator for a cold drink and plans to resume running in the fall. But heeding a few tips and tricks can make summer running not only doable, but enjoyable.

1.  Time it right.

I wrote last time about personally preferring late afternoon runs, and how you don’t have to get a run in by 7 a.m. to call yourself a runner. Hot summer temperatures have even me logging morning miles. Running before temperatures rise throughout the day is sometimes the only option for avoiding suppressing heat. Running after dusk is also a good strategy for avoiding the highest temps of the day.

2.  Head to that pool after all.

While swimming is good cross-training for runners, aqua jogging—where you don a buoyancy belt around your waist and mimic the movement of running in the deep end of a pool—can serve as a comparable substitute for running on land. And, it can be surprisingly pleasant on blistering hot days. I recently wrote about a new aqua jogging gadget here.

3.  Choose shady routes.

For running on land, either road or trail, choosing routes that are covered or mostly covered by trees or buildings lets you enjoy shade rather than constant, direct sun. While shade isn’t actually cooler in temperature, the lack of solar radiation makes it feel cooler.

4.  Consider elevation.

If you live somewhere with access to mountains, consider running at a higher elevation for cooler air. Higher elevation doesn’t have to mean epic mountain runs. You can run on wide dirt roads or even neighborhood roads at higher elevation. (You’ll also benefit from elevation training.)

5.  Dress smartly.

Choose to wear lightweight, minimal clothing that breathes well and wicks sweat. Choose light-colored fabrics over dark, as the lightness reflects sunlight as opposed to attracting it. Some apparel manufacturers offer apparel made of cooling fabrics, which create a cooling sensation when activated by moisture (your sweat). (Note that these fabrics tend to weigh a bit more than the lightest weight, breezy fabrics because they work due to a coating application, or fibers woven into the material.)

6.  Accessorize.

Wearing a hat or visor with a brim creates shade for your face, and the lack of solar radiation helps you keep your cool (similar to running on shady routes). Shielding your eyes with sunglasses is more about comfort, 

7.  Carry cold fluids.

Make sure you’re hydrating on hot runs. Doing so helps replace the extra sweat you’re losing due to the heat, and also helps you feel a cooling sensation thanks to liquids. To increase that sensation, cool your fluids by filling them with ice water and ice cubes and placing hydration systems (handheld or other). Insulated hydration systems can help keep fluids cool just as they keep them from freezing in the winter.

8.  Use salt.

With increased sweat comes increase loss of sodium, as well as liquid. Make sure you’re replacing sweat lost, especially during long runs in the heat, by supplementing with sports drink formulas or by ingesting salt tabs.

9.  Pre-hydrate.

Before heading out for a run in heat, even in day or days before, pre-hydrating (simply drinking a good amount of water or other healthy liquid) can help ward off dehydration and make you feel good throughout your run. And since summer tends to have ongoing heat waves, it’s a good idea to constantly stay hydrated; that way you’re ready for a run, or anything else, all summer long.

Lisa’s books, “Running That Doesn’t Suck: How to Love Running (Even If You Think You Hate It)” (Running Press, 2019) and “Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running” (VeloPress, 2015) can be found at most major booksellers. 

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