Help! I Can’t Stand Running in the Heat​!

Follow 10 simple rules to make tough, hot runs more enjoyable​.

Leslie asks: Help! I’m trying really hard to become a consistent runner. I thought running through the winter was tough, but then spring brought rain and wind and that seemed even more difficult than the cold. But rising temperatures and humidity are killing my motivation! Do you have any tips to help? How do other runners do it?

This reminds me of the following quote: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.” While clothing won’t solve everything, having the right running gear for the current weather conditions is very important because it will help improve your comfort level, which improves your mindset.

Your question also brings up another interesting aspect of training – mental toughness. When we talk about running, we focus on the physical, tangible, and measurable aspects of the sport, like training mileage or heart rate. We don’t often discuss the mental aspects of running because it is much harder to identify.

But just as we put calluses on our feet from running, we also put “calluses” on our brain when we do tough workouts. Every time we run, especially when we don’t want to (in the rain, in the heat), we help imprint the behavior that we can get through it.

The mental aspects of training may not be as measurable as run pace, but it is still real. My suggestion is that for one week, regardless of the weather forecast, you make a commitment to stick to your current training schedule.

Now, that said, some weather conditions are not advisable to run in, like when lightning is present or when temperatures are above 26 degrees Celsius with humidity above 90 per cent. Perhaps those are the days that you opt to run indoors on a treadmill  or cross-train instead.

If you do decide to go out in less-than-fun conditions, tell yourself you only have to go for a few minutes. If the weather is really miserable, walk instead of run. Your perspective can make all the difference, and telling yourself that you can turn around after 10 minutes if it doesn’t get any better helps you ease into this routine. More often than not, you won’t take that option to turn around once you start moving.

As the quote mentioned earlier suggests, it is important to have the right clothing and gear for running in all weather conditions. Here are some tips that are worth repeating and remembering:

  1. Run in the early morning or late at night, especially in the summer months, to avoid the heat of the day. I have found that morning exercisers have a much higher adherence rate than those who wait until later in day.
  2. Invest in the right clothing for your area. Tech fabrics are light, help wick away sweat, and produce less chafing.
  3. Exercising before sunrise or after dark? Wear bright colored clothing and carry a light so you can be seen for safety reasons.
  4. Find a comfortable hat with a wide brim. This will help protect you from elements like bright sun, obnoxious wind, and rain.
  5. Give yourself time to acclimate to changing weather conditions. It’s okay to walk as you adapt to the heat and humidity, which usually takes two to three weeks for most walkers and runners.
  6. Be flexible and adapt your run pace to fit the weather conditions. When it’s hot and humid, slow it down. Depending on the conditions, you might want to lower your pace by as much as one to two minutes per mile. Or ditch the watch and run by what feels like the appropriate effort.
  7. Joining a group or finding a running partner can really help motivation, and knowing you are meeting someone increases your commitment level.
  8. Especially in these warmer months, it’s important to go into each run well hydrated. And, depending upon the length of your run, you may need to carry water with you or plan for a water source during the run.
  9. Eating healthilyy along with your training can help motivate you to get out the door. Because when you feel good, it’s much easier to head out on a run.
  10. Give yourself at least one day off each week from exercise to recover from previous workouts. If you can be flexible with this day, it can also serve as your bad weather day of the week if necessary.

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