How Can Runners Handle the Heat?

Winter in NYC felt like it would never end and the first part of summer had been kind, but now this week is sending us into the “those snow storms weren’t that bad, right?” zone.  With the days still long and the roads still clear of ice and snow, we should continue getting out there and exercising in our neighborhood as much as possible. Don’t forget that it is not just the temperature you see on your phone’s screen, but also the humidity that plays a role in determining how hot your run will feel. This blog post will hopefully give you some ways to handle the heat while you run.


What should you wear? Sunscreen! Lots of it! Especially on your face.  Be sure to get the sweat resistant kind and apply it at least 20 minutes before you go out.  Other important items include:

·      Sunglasses

·      Hat

·      Light colored, loose fitting clothing that are moisture wicking (i.e. not cotton)

When should you run? Run early or run late to avoid the hottest part of the day, but if it is dark out, run with a friend.


How should you prepare? Nutrition and hydration are always important when running, but they are even more important when you are dealing with the heat. The best thing to do is to stay hydrated ALL the time. Be proactive! There is no correct amount to take in each day, as that is very specific to each person.

Your best guide is to monitor the color of your urine…Bet you didn’t see that coming! Your urine should be a pale straw color all the time.  If it gets too yellow, start drinking those fluids.  If you all of a sudden decide to chug a ton of water (not beer) before you run, even as late as the night before a race or run, you may find yourself needing to pee more often. Whereas, by maintaining a proper hydration level, you should not see a dramatic change in your number of trips to the bathroom. 

How can you stay hydrated on the run? If you are able to maintain your hydration, you will often not even need to drink during a shorter run, just be sure to drink after your workout. For longer runs, have a hydration plan using some or all of the following methods: 

·      Bring money to buy a drink at the bodega

·      Know where the water fountains are on your route

·      Carry water with you either in your hand, on your waist, or in a backpack

Do you know what electrolytes are?  Electrolytes are the smallest of chemicals that enable the cells in your body to function, which allow your body to work. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and others generate electricity, contract muscles, and move water and fluids within your body. If you are doing a long run, you may end up needing more than just water to prevent your electrolytes from getting out of whack … yes that is a technical term. 

If you experience things like cramping, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, or dark urine, you may need additional nutrients to get your body functioning properly again.  Consider drinking some coconut water, eating a banana or a few pretzels, or adding something fancier like a Nuun (or other electrolyte tablet) to your water bottle.  Worst case scenario you can use a sports drink, but I highly discourage those…which can be a conversation for another day!


Bottom line? All that being said, running in this heat is no joke.  Sometimes you may just need to skip your run on a really hot day and adjust your weekly training schedule.  Or you could swap your outdoor run for some other type of exercise like going to the gym, the pool, walking, or even jumping on your bike.  Now go to the bathroom and check your pee!

Rachel Cutler has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Florida. She is also a Certified USA Triathlon Coach. 

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