Summer Running


“There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”

Bill Bowerman

While the quote from the famous Oregon coach and Nike Co-Founder is motivating to hear before heading out the door, summer running can be tough if not sometimes dangerous!

For those of us not lucky enough to live on the west coast; running in warm temperatures and high humidity is a reality for every runner in the summer. We, runners, are a determined bunch and have goals that we want to hit in our fall races, which means unless we want to be stuck on a treadmill, facing the heat is our only option.

So how do we make the most out of our situation? Some simple changes to our normal routine can turn an extremely hot run, into something a little more bearable. These are the things that I have to remind myself to focus on. Hopefully, they are helpful to you as well.

The first is to adjust your pace accordingly. With GPS watches, today it can make us slaves to hitting a certain pace. But in hot conditions being ok running slower is a MUST, as your body has to spend a lot more energy in cooling itself. On an 85-degree day with 80% relative humidity means that a run can be slowed down by up to 6% according to some studies. By quickly doing the math, that means if you normally run 9-minute mile pace you should ease off to a 9:30+ per mile.

This picture was at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, I didn’t heed my own advice and suffered dearly for it.

Looking for a cheap way to keep cool? One way our coach recommends for us to keep your body temperature down is to create a “poor man’s ice vest”. Take a Cotton T-shirt. Throw it in a Ziploc bag and water it down. Throw in some ice cubes or in the freezer and throw on right before you head out the door! While mildly unpleasant at first it will do a great job of keeping you cool for a majority of your run.

Shade. Shade. Shade. I can’t emphasize this enough. The temperature difference between direct sunlight and in the shade, can be up to a 10-15-degree difference! Not everyone has tree lined roads in their city. But making the most out of any route and shade can be huge in getting a good run in. Running next to tall buildings that block the sun, doing loops in an older neighborhood can also be beneficial.

It can’t be emphasized enough that hydration in the summer is something that requires a continuous focus. It helps a lot to get in the habit of having a re-usable water bottle with you at all times, as it can be easy to think you’re fine and forget if you don’t. Also, focus on electrolyte intake. H20 alone isn’t enough to get the job done. You lose a lot of essential minerals when you sweat and it needs to be replaced.

Finally, this goes without saying but BE SMART! If you feel yourself overheating, stop. Be conscious of heat fatigue. Runners want to try to push through any wall. But heat cannot simply be ignored or pushed past. It’s dangerous to push your luck in the heat, and a high body temperature can lead to dangerous conditions. Know that an extra mile or two isn’t worth risking a medical issue. Be willing to adjust.

There are many other tips in tricks that runners use to help cool themselves when temperatures rise. But these are all things that take just a little more awareness that are simple changes to prepare our body for the high temperatures. Summer running can be tough, but it makes those first few cool days of fall even more pleasant. Keep putting in the work as summer toils lead to fall spoils!