Running in the Heat

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 | 1 comment

Hydrate, Adjust Your Pace, Cover Your Face!


There are several practices that can generate a triumphant journey through the perils of a hot run. Warm weather can be deceptive. Muscles are looser and the sun generally creates optimism, especially for native Northwesterners. In order to perform in any conditions, adapting to the heat is crucial. Here are three basic rules to help you beat the heat: Hydrate, adjust your pace, and cover your face.




The hotter the weather, the more imperative it is to be fully hydrated. In order to accomplish this, follow these guidelines: 48 hours prior to the event, drink approximately half of your weight in ounces (if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water). When you do run or walk, add 16 ounces about an hour before you head out. During exercise, add about 6 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise. That’s a lot of water, but it will keep you “hydration neutral” and allow you to perform at your maximum effort and you will recover faster as well.


Hydration Equation: drink ½ of your body weight in ounces per day and add 6 ounces for every 20 minutes of running or walking. Add 16 ounces about 1 hour before you exercise.


Regarding intake of alcohol and caffeine, cut back. These can have a dehydrating effect, and using them just before you run can make you have to pee…among other things. So try to limit your intake 36 hours prior to the event and certainly within a couple of hours of your leg.


Adjust Your Pace


Heat can also affect your pace. In this age of GPS, speed-distance, measure every step, never miss a beat, you must slow down in the heat. Some experts believe that for every 5 degrees above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your pace can be impacted by as much as 20 seconds per mile. If you have been training in the heat, then you will run better in the heat. If you have not been training in the heat, go out easy and let the miles come to you. If you get halfway through your run or walk and you feel great, then you can speed up a little.


If you normally run 8:00-minute miles, in 75-degree heat you can expect closer to 9:00-minute miles.


Cover Your Face


Hats, visors, and sunglasses—these all make a huge difference when you are running or walking in the bright sun. Hats and visors can obviously offer protection for your face, but they also help you relax your facial muscles, which can radiate to your shoulders, back, and even your hips. If you wear a hat, make sure that it is made of a performance fabric like polyester and that it is well vented.

Athletic sunglasses are generally tinted to ensure that the wearer’s vision is not distorted or impaired. If you do plan to wear shades, practice, practice, practice! As for the rest of your body, protect yourself from the sun but wear as little as possible. Stay away from cotton, which absorbs moisture and can actually cause you to chafe as well as overheat.

Sunscreen: SPF 30 or higher. Spray is nice because it disperses more evenly. Be careful not to over-apply, especially in areas close to your mouth or eyes.


Rule of 20


Whether you are walking on a recreational team or vying for the victory, the most important thing you can do is adapt to your surroundings. If it feels hot when you are standing around, imagine that it will feel 20 degrees warmer when you start to run or walk. Run or walk in the shade when you can. Know you route and prepare for undulations, changing surfaces, and elevation gains.


If it feels hot when you are standing around, imagine that it will feel 20 degrees warmer when you start to run or walk.


Follow these basics guidelines for hydration, adjusting your pace, and covering your face, and perform at your peak during this year’s event. Go out easy, listen to your body, and be prepared. Be Fit. Be Fast. Be Fearless.






Dave Harkin owns Portland Running Company with his wife, Paula. They live in West Linn.

1 Comment

  1. Great Article Dave! The heat is amplified by the humidity in the South. My coach says the same thing about hydration and the amount of intake.
    Best to you and your outstanding running life.

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