Running In The Hot, Hot, Heat

What do the Badlands of South Dakota, Jurgensen Woods in Illinois, and Summit Lake Park in Akron, Ohio all have in common?

This week, they’re all damn hot!

Seriously. Could I have picked a hotter week for the Running Roadtrip?

Here we are with a heat index of 115°, and I’m stopping in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to sneak in my eighth, ninth, and tenth cross-country runs in these temperatures anyway.

To put that in perspective, OSHA’s maximum recommended temperature range varies from 77° to 86°, depending on how hard you happen to be working.

As always, it’s best to play it safe when running in these conditions. Sometimes the best answer really is to take the day off.

However, if you really can’t stop yourself from running, here are some tips to help you beat the heat.

Start Early Or Start Late

It can be hard to beat the sunrise during the long, hot summer months. However, if a day is predicted to be hot, it is well worth the effort to rise before the sun.

Once the sun rises, the temperature increases rapidly. Being an early riser can often save you 10° or more.

At the same time, if you just can’t drag yourself out of bed in the morning, you can run after sundown when temperatures start to drop for a similar effect. But be aware that post-sundown runs are likely to still be hotter than pre-sunup, as many surfaces are still releasing the heat they stored during the day.

In either case, don’t forget to dress for visibility.

Seek Shade

If you simply have to run in the middle of the day, do your best to find a shaded trail to run along.

When I was leaving Illinois, I stopped in Jurgensen Woods for a quick run. From the entrance to the park to its interior, the temperature dropped a whopping 8°. It was still 92° out, but it wasn’t the 100° of the surrounding neighborhoods.

And every degree counts, let me tell you.

Stay Hydrated

According to the literature provided by the National Park Service in Badlands National Park, in high heat environments the average person needs approximately a gallon of water per day.

That’s the recommendation just for existing in these temperatures.

During periods of high physical stress in these environments, such as while running, OSHA recommends one 50-60° cup every 15-20 minutes.

And don’t forget the electrolytes. Extra sodium and potassium will help you retain that precious water.

And Speaking Of Water…

Running in Akron, Ohio, I was genuinely concerned I might die. The radio had been predicting high temperatures with a chance of doom for the last 200 miles.

Imagine my surprise when the waters along the Summit Lake made for a slightly cool afternoon run.

My point is that if you have the option, try to run alongside a body of water.

Air passing over a body of water lowers the surrounding temperature. Think misty mornings around lakes and rivers.

In fact, it’s a larger scale version of the principle that dogs and other animals use to cool themselves.

If you can find a shaded trail by a lake and run just before dawn, all the better. Just don’t forget to carry water.

Almost Home

By the way, tomorrow is the last day of the Running Roadtrip. And, boy, is it a long one.

Thanks to the small size of the east coast states, I’ve got 6 states to hit tomorrow – not that that’s at all intimidating.

And I start my day with a very exciting run in Pennsylvania. I’ll definitely reveal more in my next update. For now, suffice it to say that I won’t be the only crazy runner out there tomorrow.

While I go run my feet off, don’t forget to check out the other entries in the running roadtrip series:

What tips do you use to stay cool in high temps? Do you take the day off? Push through? Leave me some love.


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