With Britain experiencing temperatures of 30℃ plus, what does it mean for runners? Is it ever too hot to go for a run? The good news, unless there are underlying health reasons why you shouldn’t exercise in extreme temperatures, is that it is safe to run in heat like we are currently experiencing. In fact, there is no reason why you can’t run in temperatures of up to 35℃ as long as you take the right precautions. Now, some of our international followers may be wondering why a temperature of 30℃ is any cause for concern but we know that here in the UK, that kind of heat feels like we’ve entered the fiery pits of hell. 

Tips to Make it Safe to Run in Heat

What are the proper precautions and how can we reduce the risks associated with running in the heat? 

Pick Your Route Wisely 

For trail runners, it’s a bit easier to find shaded routes to run. If you have access to woods or forests, you will know that even in the driest conditions, you will still find shade, breeze and muddy puddles under cover of the trees. Already I’m planning my next run at a local beauty spot which is totally shaded. 

Take Water With You

For those that normally only take water on a run of 8-10 miles or more, it’s wise to carry water with you in these temperatures, whatever distance you are covering. You never know what might happen so better to be safe than sorry. Take a 500ml bottle in your hydration vest. 

Wear Sunscreen

The UV is high, even when it’s cloudy. You may well be running a large majority of your run under the cover of trees but be sure to apply sunscreen before you go out. You know your catching the sun – just look at your short or racer back vest marks!!!!! 

Get Out Early

I had to take my daughter to work at 9 on Sunday which scuppered my usual 8am trail run. Instead, I decided to get out earlier and had run 10 miles by 8. I’m not sure how much I’d have enjoyed it waiting until 9.30am. Anyway, starting at 60am in this heat definitely helps. Chances are it’s too hot to enjoy a lie-in anyway.

Wear a Hat

Sunstroke is a beast and while you may be perfectly fine running in the heat, not everyone is. It can make you feel sick, dizzy and make the run much harder than it should be. Protect your head with a hat or pop on a visor to keep the sun off your face. If you really do struggle with the heat, or have some longer distances to cover, these sort of cooling accessories are great

Running in the Heat Can Actually be Good for Training 

Studies have found that, as well as increasing the amount that you sweat, training in the heat can increase blood plasma volume ( leading to better cardiovascular fitness), reducing overall core temperature, reducing blood lactate, increasing skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, making a person train better in cold temperatures!! 

Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon, says “heat acclimation may actually be more beneficial than altitude training in eliciting positive physiological adaptations”.

Heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Running Abroad

We’ve actually trained for an ultra in mediterranean August temperatures and found that a combination of getting out early and properly hydrating, plus not trying to do too much speed work, makes it achievable. If you are going abroad this summer (not many of us will be able to), pack your trainers and give it a go. If you are exploring foreign trails though, don’t go alone and stay safe.

Run When You Feel Like it

Of course, while we can give you all the facts and figures, along with useful advice about making it safe to run in heat, you may just not feel like it. For many, the thought of putting on our trainers and heading out of the door in this heat is enough to make us melt just thinking about it. Do what you want – after all, we do it because we enjoy it.