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14 Tips to Help You Enjoy High Heat Summer Trail Running

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Welcome to the high temperatures (deg F) for the next nine days in Dallas, Texas. This is a typical July in the south midwest region of the United States where the thermometer often peaks out in the 90 to low 100s F.

These skin cleansing temps don’t have to keep you locked indoors watching Race for the Soul, dreaming about the fall trail running season.

Here are 14 ways that can help running outdoors during this time of year, dare I say – be FUN!

1. Baby Steps

The body will go through some heat adaptation if you give it a chance through gradually increased outdoor exposure. Through time, the body will become more efficient at handling the heat and you will run better. No need to shock and awe.

Per Hammer Nutrition’s Fueling Guide

“Train to get fit in the heat. Heat acclimatization and fitness reduce fluid and electrolyte losses by up to 50%.”

Listen to your body.

2. Sometimes You Feel Like an Ultra Nut, Sometimes You Don’t

Unless you are training for a 50 or 100+ mile event, save those crazy long runs for the milder temps. The ultra community will still talk to you.

Some may love the long run in the heat but don’t feel you must also. Through my last 10+ years of endurance sports, I have noticed improved fitness has also helped with improved heat management.

3. Strap a 5 Gallon Jug of Water to your Body


When the sweat is flowing off your body as quickly as the polar icecaps are melting, you need to replace some of those lost fluids. You really don’t want to lose more than 3-4% pre-run body weight (as noted by Hammer Nutrition) for performance and more importantly, health reasons.

If the duct taped five Gallon Jug doesn’t work for ya, consider a handheld water bottle or a back/waist pack designed for running. So many options out there these days. You can see reviews on our main page for a variety of bottles and packs.

Be aware, over hydration (hyponatremia) can be just as dangerous.

The hydration section of the Hammer Nutrition Fueling Handbook provides some good general hydration starting points and is worth a look but they recommend in the 16-28 ounces/hour range depending on body size, temps, how heat acclimatized you are, and a variety of variables both known and likely unknown.

4. Salt Lick

Individual electrolyte needs seem to vary greatly.

The Hammer Nutrition Fueling Handbook (Electrolyte Replenishment section) provides some good suggestions and things to think about. Similar to hydration needs, many variables come into play when dialing in what works for you.

If a Salt lick is not your thing, electrolytes can by consumed by traditional food and sports nutrition products.

5. Save the Cotton Wear for Home (especially with high humidity)

If possible, wear some technical sports clothing. These items help pull moisture away from the body and evaporate it quicker.

If you sweat enough for long enough, even the tech gear will be saturated but it won’t weigh as much as the cotton. Welcome to the Texas summer.

6. Lube Up!

Each of us has particular areas of our body that will chafe when running and especially if the sweat is flowin’. When you find where they are, use some kind of lubricant/protectant to prevent that strange looking run form and the shower scream.

A few products I have used:

  • BodyGlide (since my early triathlon days) – Easy to apply. May need re-application during the hot summer months.
  • Trail Toes – Good for any potential hot spots on the body. A little messy to apply (you have to dip your fingers into it) but once on the skin an warmed up a bit, one of my favorite products.
  • 2Toms Sport Shield Roll-On – Easy to apply. Has worked well for me. Bottle can leak some if the bottle is tipped over which can be annoying.

7. Go Left Now

If you are on a trail you haven’t explored before, bring a map of some sort. No fun getting lost in 100 degree temps and you’re out of water.

8. Chill It

Pack your bottles or bladders with ice. Cold fluids can be a real treat during a run or at least the portion of the run before it starts to boil. 😉

You could also freeze a bottle the night before a run.

I have done this with one of my old Fuel Belt bottles (~8 ounces) I carry in my hand during one of my short five miles runs during the 100F summer days.

Feels great carrying. Extra cold water to drink or squirt over your head. Yowza! Good stuff.

9. The Umbrella Effect

Be aware of your needs for sunburn protection. Everyone is unique.

Here are four sunburn protection ideas.

10. Miles to Go While the Sun Sleeps

Get it done before the sun rises or after sunset. At least in the north Texas area, I have noticed higher humidity / cooler temps in the morning and lower humidity / higher temps in the evening.

I have enjoyed some amazing 4:00 am and 10:00 pm adventures with the full moon leading way. (one such experience)

11. Lowlander Altitude Training

It’s OK, you will typically run slower in the heat. Come this Fall when the temps drop, you will feel the hop in the legs come screaming back.

It will feel like an amazing boost in fitness.

12. Breathe In – Breathe Out

Air quality can be an issue this time of year, especially near the bigger cities.

If you want to be aware of your local poor air quality days, AirNow can email you a notice based on your requested parameters. Pretty cool!

13. Acceptance

Embrace what is. With a bit of preparation and self-understanding (learned through experience), running in an oven can be simply…running.

14. Post-Run Watermelon

Enjoy some chilled watermelon after a hot run – BAM! Every cell of your body will celebrate. Seriously, it is that enjoyable.

The heat is an element that affects everyone a bit differently. The longer the run, the more important you have an understanding of your personal heat management needs. With a gradual approach over time, you will have a baseline understanding that can be adjusted based on conditions and body feedback.

Then maybe, just maybe, the heat will just be another running companion to be respected, but not feared.

What else helps you enjoy running during the high heat summer months?

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

(Photos: Courtesy of metdevthegamer, katie@!, saturnism, San Diego Shooter, and msspider66)

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

5 Responses to “14 Tips to Help You Enjoy High Heat Summer Trail Running”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SeriousRunning.com, Carolyn LaWell. Carolyn LaWell said: Some #summer trail #running #tips: http://fb.me/FqqrOtY6 RT @SeriousRunning […]

  2. on 22 Jul 2010 at 12:30 pm Jill Will Run

    I agree… they had watermelon at the finish line at the half marathon I did this past weekend, it was DELICIOUS. I always like watermelon, but it tasted even more wonderful at that point!

    Good tips!

  3. on 22 Jul 2010 at 7:36 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Jill – …and if the watermelon is chilled – watch out – Yum! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  4. on 24 Jul 2010 at 9:59 am Kenley Jones

    Wow, thanks very much for the 14 tips on running the trails in the heat. I am fairly a new trail runner, and am experimenting with the Camelbaks for hydration. One thing I am doing now is NOT focusing on time really. Just distance. I save the time thing for my road runs, etc.. ANd the chilled watermelon is AWESOME. thanks again.

  5. on 26 Jul 2010 at 9:21 am David Hanenburg

    Hey Kenley – Thanks for sharing. The trails can be a great supplement to a road running program. Happy running!