Tips for Beating the Heat

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips

hotsun.jpgGood Morning Boys and Girls!

As I’m sure those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere have noticed, it’s summer. As such, we’re having to deal with weather that is, in technical terms, sucky. It’s hot at lunch, and it’s sticky in the mornings and the evenings.

In short, it’s a wonderful time to be running.

Here are a couple of tips to consider to make the heat a bit more bearable:

  1. Move the runs to the ends of the day – Run early or run late. The temperatures and humidity may still be there, but at least you won’t have to deal with that mass of irradiated gas, the gigantic nuclear furnace known as the sun, which beats down with approximately 1 kilowatt per square meter of energy whenever it’s over the horizon.
  2. Hydrate – You can’t sweat if you don’t have water in your belly. The easiest way to judge if you’re well hydrated is to look at your pee. If it’s dark yellow or brown, make like a frat boy and “Drink, Drink, Drink!”
  3. It’s cool in the shade – Think about where you can run. Sure, the route along the beach is pretty, but it’s exposed to the sun. Maybe the route through the tree-lined neighborhood is better to maximize time in the shade. Or, maybe, God-Forbid, it’s time to hit the gym.
  4. Cross-Train – Cycling’s great – tons of airflow means tons of cooling. Plus, the Tour de France is coming up – you can have mental visions of weighing 135 and spinning majestically across France. Swimming – Man, what’s better than swimming in the summer? Or go non-traditional: paddling, backpacking, or scraping the paint off of my house and slopping up another coat (Note 1) can all get you that cardio workout that you’re looking for.
  5. Psychology – Remember, this, too, will pass.
  6. Clothing – As much maligned as it is, wet cotton is great at carrying away heat. Which, actually, is why it gets a bad rap. Dump a cup of water over your head before the run, and after. One of my earliest running memories is heading out with my ma and pa during summers in Michigan. When we’d get home, we’d all pull off our 70’s era tube socks, soak them in the hose, and sit around the front yard with a cool, wet, sock around our necks, pulling heat out of our veins. Lots of drinkin’ from the hose, too.
  7. Don’t Chafe – Run, don’t walk, down to your local sports emporium, and pick up a stick of Bodyglide or equivalent. You can’t un-chafe a nipple or thigh, so it’s best to take precautions. If you’ve chafed, you’ll understand. If not, please, please take my word for it.
  8. Race – Nothing better for motivation than knowing you’re not the only insane person running in this stew.
  9. Take it easy – The heat slows everyone down, slow runners most of all.
  10. Cut it short – Typical medical disclaimers apply – be careful in the heat, and know the signs of heat stress. Stop immediately when showing signs of heat exhaustion – headaches, dizziness, lighheadedness or fainting, weakness and moist skin, mood changes such as irritability or confusion, or upset stomach and vomiting.

Oh, and wear sunscreen. Skin cancer aside, having a sunburn puts more burden on your body’s cooling system.

About Bill Jankowski

Jank is the nom-de-plume (alias) of Bill Jankowski. Jank is a runner (defined as “one who runs”, without any necessary claims of athleticism). More accurate would be to say that he enjoys the company of his iPod, and goes to great lengths to get long periods of time alone with his thoughts. Plus, running is a wonderful way to keep his ego in check. He’s been physically active since he was a kid (assuming that, for the years 1995-1999 and 2001-2003, drinking counts as “active”), playing Soccer, Flag Football, Basketball, and Softball while in college (for his fraternity’s B-team)(Actually, add 1990-1994 to the years of inactivity). In addition to running, Jank swims (controlled drowning), bikes (’cause his mom suggested he play in traffic as a kid), and kayaks (see swimming, but with sharks and props). An engineer by the grace of God, a (recovering) submariner by the graces of the taxpayers of the United States, and an MBA by mistake, Bill enjoys gear (oooh, shiny!), cycling (oooh, shiny bikes and clothes!), and poking at accepted ideas with a pointy stick. In 2004, Jank decided he didn’t want to go full-over to being fat, and took up running (instead of stopping eating). In 2005, he finished his first marathon (WooHoo!) in October, and his second two weeks later (dumb idea). He is still recovering. Bill lives in Connecticut (the poorer, eastern part) with his lovely wife Melissa (who is far more fit than he is and way less navel-gazing about it), and their two sons, Jake and Nate, who, in addition to having deliberately cool names, are the finest children to grace the Earth (clear proof that “evolution through natural selection” is bunk; although he still questions the monthly bill for “Pool Boy” despite not having a swimming pool). His rants can be found at; his best stuff is found here at CRN.

  1. Nancy Toby on July 4th at 7:15 pm

    Hyponatremia cannot be prevented or alleviated by “by throwing a scoop of powdered drink mix in your water bottle on occasion.” I suggest your writers should be a little less cavalier on a problem which kills runners and more informed about proper prevention.

  2. Jon (was) in Michigan on July 5th at 3:39 am

    Hyponatremia is a condition where your sodium levels drop below 130 mM/L (they normally are around 135-145 mM/L). It can be caused by various medical conditions, medications, or by a particular activity. Levels below 120 mM/L can be life threatening.

    One important point about hyponatremia is that you can count the number of runner deaths due to it on your hands. It has received alot of press in recent years but remains an extremely rare cause of death among runners. Far more athletes are killed by heat stroke, heart failure, and car crashes on the way to the race, than by hyponatremia.

    Proper hydration and electrolyte intake are suggested as preventative measures for hyponatremia, as it pertains to athletes. Eleviating the condition when it has progressed to more severe stages, should involve medical personnel. The exact cause of the condition in runners may be far more complex than just drinking too much water, and other physiological factors may contribute to an athlete’s susceptibility, such as BMI.

  3. Nancy Toby on July 5th at 5:17 am

    Hyponatremia deaths may be rare, but clinical hyponatremia is NOT rare. On the contrary, it is extremely commmon and undoubtably affects performance. Research has shown that as many as 1 in 7 marathon runners are experiencing hyponatremia by the finish line.

  4. Jon (was) in Michigan on July 5th at 6:20 am

    That research likely comes from the 2002 study of 488 runners from the Boston Marathon. 13 percent ( ~1 in 8 ) had hyponatremia (below 135 mM/L) and 0.6 percent (~1 in 170) had critical hyponatremia (below 120 mM/L).

    I would definately agree that a significant number of marathoners experience a decreased sodium level by the end of the race. There’s no question that affects performance. Likewise, heat stroke/exhaustion and dehydration play an equally large (if not greater) role in degrading performance, not to mention dropping blood sugar levels. Certainly, bonking during a marathon is a very common occurrence for marathoners and requires quick medical attention for extreme cases.

    For optimum performance, you need to balance your fluid/electrolyte/calorie intake with your fluid/electrolytes excreted and calories burned.

  5. Mark Iocchelli on July 5th at 8:02 am

    I removed that part of the article as I unfortunately don’t have time to get deeper into this issue at the moment.

    Thanks for your comments.

  6. Web links for July 5th | booyaa dot org on July 5th at 6:38 pm

    […] Tips for Beating the Heat » Complete Running Network – Sound advice from CRN […]

  7. billjank on July 5th at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for the input, Nancy.

    Let’s also not forget that the marathon is an extreme case – for fitness runners, say 2-10 milers, dehydration is, as Jon noted, way more of a concern. I’ve seen guys carted off due to poor hydration pretty much every summer I’ve run, and have yet to see a case of too little sodium.

  8. Dori on July 7th at 10:35 pm

    These are great tips and I especially like the one about wearing sunscreen. I’ve even started to wear it on the parts of my body that are covered, since my singlet doesn’t block out UV rays. I carry a bandana, soak it in cool water then wrap it around my neck to cool off. The Runner’s World article had some other great ideas.

  9. Hot Weather Running | on July 8th at 2:03 am

    […] Tips for Beating the Heat » Complete Running Network […]

  10. Perry on July 9th at 3:25 pm

    A couple of more tips taken from an article I wrote on the subject.

    1. Wear a visor and sunglasses. The visor will help shade your eyes but still allow heat to escape out your head.

    2. Stay away from blacktop. It gets hot!

    3. Run indoors if you can.

    4. Run by a body of water. It is usually cooler by a lake or river.

  11. billjank on July 9th at 3:31 pm

    Thanks, Dori and Perry. Running inside is a bitter, bitter pill for me personally – even when it’s miserable on either extreme of the thermometer, there’s something about fresh air and a changing view that’s worth the pain…