The last few weeks in Ottawa have been blisteringly hot so I thought I would write some tips for running outside in the heat. There are currently heat warnings here suggesting that people stay inside during the hottest hours of the day.
1. Run early in the morning or late at night
The hottest part of the day will always be in the mid afternoon, so avoid this time of day if you can. I find running in the morning best because Ottawa gets very humid in the summer. The lowest humidity is usually in the morning so trying to get out before 7am is the coolest time. You’ll also want to be careful if you are somewhere humid because it reduces your cooling ability from sweating. Sweating works to cool you down from the evaporation that occurs. If the air is humid, your sweat will not evaporate and the cooling effect is lost.
2. Wear a hat
Wearing a hat will keep the sunlight off of your head and eyes. It will also protect your scalp from sun burns. I do find that my head feels hotter with a hat on, but dumping some water on it will keep your head nice and cool.
3. Bring water
You’ll find lots of tips on running websites saying that you don’t need water for shorter runs. I find that when it is super hot outside, it’s best to throw this tip out the window. It’s better to be carrying water you don’t drink than to be feeling like you need water but don’t have it.
I’ll also suggest that instead of filling your bottle up with ice cubes, freeze your water bottle the night before. Your bottle will stay frozen longer.
Also if you can, try and plan a running route that will have water fountains on it. That way you can refill your bottle, or soak your head if you want to.
4. Find a shady route
This one is pretty straight forward; if you run in the shade, you won’t be as hot.
5. Don’t expect to run as fast as normal
This should go almost without saying. If you try and run at your regular pace, you’ll burn out so quickly in the heat. Don’t be disappointed with slower times, you’re body is still getting the benefits from training. You’ll also find that when the temperature cools back down, you can run much easier.
6. Wear sunscreen!
Even if you are not someone who is prone to sunburns, it is important to wear sunscreen while you’re out. The sun can do a lot of damage to your skin over time. Putting yourself at risk for skin cancer isn’t worth it for a cool tan.
7. Don’t overdo it
If you are feeling the heat and you are working too hard, don’t push yourself too much. Sometimes it’s ok to shorten a run if it means avoiding heat stroke. Again, you can’t expect the same performance in non ideal conditions. Save a speed workout for another day and just go for an easy run instead.
8. Run inside
Depending on where you live, the conditions outside may get harsh enough that the average person can’t workout in them. If that’s the case, there is no shame in hopping on a treadmill in an air conditioned building instead.
9. Don’t complain about the heat!
I have heard so many people complaining about how hot it is outside. We don’t get enough summer days here in Canada and I can’t stand people complaining when we do get them. I’ll take a too hot day over a day where this happens….