Running in the Heat – Tips for Pacing

by | Jul 6, 2024 | Tips, Training & Racing

Running in the heat is, well, tough.

With summer training (and weather) upon us, it’s worth discussing how to manage summer running to avoid overtraining and injury.

It seems pretty obvious, but running a given pace at 50°F (10°C) is not the same as 85°F (29°C).

Too often, runners push through summer runs without adjusting their pacing (and adequately hydrating). Luckily, some simple rules help you run smart this summer.

Adjust Your Pacing

First things first, slow down! The heat stresses your body, making it work harder even at your usual pace. Adjusting your pace is crucial to prevent overheating and exhaustion. Here’s a useful method to adjust your running pace based on temperature and dew point:

Combine Temperature and Dew Point: Add the current temperature (in °F) to the dew point. For example, if it’s 85°F with a dew point of 65°F, the sum is 150.

 Find Your Adjustment Percentage:

  • 100 or less: no pace adjustment
  • 101 to 110: 0% to 0.5% pace adjustment
  • 111 to 120: 0.5% to 1.0% pace adjustment
  • 121 to 130: 1.0% to 2.0% pace adjustment
  • 131 to 140: 2.0% to 3.0% pace adjustment
  • 141 to 150: 3.0% to 4.5% pace adjustment
  • 151 to 160: 4.5% to 6.0% pace adjustment
  • 161 to 170: 6.0% to 8.0% pace adjustment
  • 171 to 180: 8.0% to 10.0% pace adjustment
  • Above 180: hard running is not recommended

For instance, with a combined total of 150 (85°F + 65°F), you should adjust your pace by 3.0% to 4.5%. If your usual pace is 9:00 per mile, a 4% adjustment means running at about 9:22 per mile instead​ (Maximum Performance Running)​​ (RunFit MKE)​​ (TWB Running)​.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Hydration can’t be overstated. Start your runs well-hydrated and keep sipping water throughout. If you run for over an hour, consider carrying an electrolyte drink to replace the salts lost through sweat. A handy tip is to weigh yourself before and after your run; drink 16-24 ounces of water for every pound lost.

Choose the Right Time

Run early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler and the sun is less intense. Midday sun can be brutal and increases the risk of heat-related illnesses. If your schedule only allows for midday runs, opt for shaded routes or treadmills in air-conditioned gyms.

Dress for Success

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing. This type of fabric helps keep sweat off your skin, promoting faster evaporation and cooling. Don’t forget a hat or visor and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, headache, and excessive sweating, followed by chills or muscle cramps. If you start feeling these symptoms, stop running, find shade, and hydrate immediately. It’s better to cut a run short than risk your health.

Acclimate Gradually

If you’re not used to running in the heat, give your body time to adapt. Start with shorter, easier runs and gradually increase the intensity and duration over a few weeks. This acclimatization helps your body become more efficient at cooling itself.

By adjusting your pace, hydrating properly, and following these tips, you can enjoy your summer runs safely and effectively. Remember, it’s about running smart, not just running hard.

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