My goodness it is a SCORCHER this week. If you’re like us, you still want to get outside to run, walk, and be merry. Ideally, we can get outside before the sun is high in the sky blasting down on us. But if you must run in the heat, here are a few tips! These are also great tactics to use while running a race in the heat. A note, please be careful if you must venture out in the heat of the day!

Choose a shady route

This looks like a hot, sunny place to run. Find the shade to stay cool! Photo: Votography Images

Route selection can make all the difference if you need to run in the heat of the day! Areas with southern exposure and a lack of shade are clear spots to avoid (**cough cough** we’re looking at you, Waterworks). Areas by creeks, in valleys, and in heavily forested areas will be much cooler on a hot day. Try checking out Pattee Canyon or the Rattlesnake Corridor to avoid some of the sun. If you’re running on the roads, crossing the street to run on a sidewalk that’s in the shade can make all the difference. 

Bring water and electrolytes

Even when it’s not hot, we sweat a LOT. With temperatures in the triple digits, you will absolutely need to bring water for most runs. Try carrying a handheld water bottle with 14-20oz of water. Plus, if you don’t end up needing water, you get a nice arm workout. But chances are you’ll drink something, even on a short run. Try adding electrolytes (like Nuun or Skratch) to help account for the loss of salt and other electrolytes that happen while sweating. Another upside of bringing a water bottle is that you can squirt water all over your body to help stay cool. 

If you forget water or run out of it, find a water fountain! Some convenient ones around town include the M Trail bathrooms and on the Kim Williams Trail by the Madison Street food bridge. If the store is open, feel free to drop by to fill up a bottle in our bathroom 🙂

Hydrate BEFORE you head out

Whatever you need to do to stay hydrated, do it! Photo: Votography Images

Before leaving on a run or walk in the heat, make sure that you are hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, before, during and after your outing. There’s nothing worse than getting a few miles from the door and realizing that you were never hydrated to begin with. All summer, try to drink consistently and avoid dehydration as much as possible. 

Stay wet!

For anyone racing in the heat, this is especially important. Staying wet will do wonders to keep your core temperature down. Many trail runners find that submerging in creeks and ponds along a route can be a lifesaver when things get hot. If you don’t have a creek handy, bring an extra water bottle that you use to squirt all over you. It may feel silly at first, but it feels AMAZING. When you sweat, your body’s cooling off through “evaporative cooling”. Dousing yourself in water has the same effect!

If you’re running a race and want to work on heat acclimatization and being prepared to push hard in hot weather, check out this blog from iRunFar for more info.

And don’t forget! If you’re cruising around town, we’re lucky enough to have the Clark Fork River at our disposal. If you get too hot, a dip in the river will be sure to cool you down! Post-run swims aren’t a bad idea either.

Ice is your best friend!

This is more geared towards folks out racing. Ice your best bud on a hot day! Grab your favorite buff, bandana, arm sleeves, or hat and fill it with ice! A constant river of melting ice water dripping down your back or arms feels incredible. In races, pockets and packs make great spots to stuff with ice as well. If it can carry ice, fill it with ice! Ice helps you stay wet longer (which again, helps with evaporative cooling) and is COLD. What could be better than that?!

Wear sunscreen and/or long sleeves, a hat, and glasses

A white shirt and white hat can do wonders to keep the sun from beating down on you too hard. Photo: Votography Images

The only way to make a hot day worse is to get sunburned. Lather up! Opt for white or light-colored clothing to reflect the sun. Wearing a lightweight, light-colored long sleeve shirt will also help to keep you cool and keep the sun away. A light-colored hat (or sweet RE visor) and sunglasses will help keep sun off your face.