Whether you’re training for your very first 10k or aiming for a PB in the London Marathon, follow these summer running tips from the experts at RunningWithUs to stay happy, healthy, and ready to meet your race goals.

Top 10 tips for running in the summer heat

1. Soak your cap before setting off

Run in a lightweight, white or light-coloured cap, soaking it in cold water before you head out. During your run, keep sipping your drink gradually to quench thirst, but don’t be afraid to pour cold water over your thighs, neck and head to help lower your core temperature and cool your body.

2. Pick your time wisely

The sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm, so if your usual schedule involves running on your lunch break, try running before work or in the evening instead. If you have no choice but to train in the middle of the day, make sure these are easy recovery runs, and you start off slowly to ease yourself in.

3. Consider your kit – and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Choose good-quality, light-coloured running kit, with plenty of air vents to keep you cool, and ideally made from a sweat-wicking fabric to keep you dry and comfortable. A cap, sunglasses and high-SPF sunscreen are also key pieces of your kit.

4. Stay hydrated

This is important all year round, but even more so when it’s scorching outside.

The easiest way to tell if you’re hydrated enough is by checking the colour of your pee: if it’s clear to light yellow, you’re well-hydrated; any darker, and you need to drink more.

You could stick to water, or add rehydration sachets or electrolyte tablets to replace those you lose in your sweat. 

Make sure you avoid diuretics like alcohol and caffeine before your run, as, by increasing your urine output, they can quickly make you even more dehydrated.

5. Have patience

Your body needs time – even up to a few weeks – to acclimatise to hotter conditions, so when you start your summer running, don’t look for too much too soon: it’s better to ease yourself in gradually, rather than getting burnt(!) out.

6. Seek out the shade

Regardless of the time you run, it’s still wise to stick to shadier spots wherever you can. Plan ahead and try to find parks or trails with plenty of tree cover.

7. Work to effort, not to pace

Your pace when you run in the heat will be very different to when you’re running in cooler conditions – don’t panic, this is normal! That’s why it’s really important to run to an effort level, rather than a set pace, which could cause you to work too hard.

Your heart rate will naturally be more elevated in the heat – be aware of this, and adjust your sessions accordingly.

8. Don’t forget to fuel

If you’re exercising early to avoid the hottest part of the day, it’s still really important to eat before your longer runs and harder sessions. You’ll need plenty of energy, and in hot weather, you can actually burn carbohydrates at a faster rate than usual.

Try snacking on a light but carb-filled breakfast before you head out – this may involve more planning ahead or setting your alarm slightly earlier, but fuelling up really is vital to run well and feel good.

9. Try something different

If it really is too hot to run on a particular day, hit the (air-conditioned!) gym for some cross training instead. Or cool right down with an outdoor swim in a local lido, river, or the sea (where and when it’s safe to do so, of course).

10. Know when to stop

Heat related illnesses can be really serious – so always be sensible when running in the heat, and if at any point you feel unwell, or something just doesn’t feel right, stop! Seek shade, rehydrate, and get someone to take you home.

With thanks to Siobhan Rootes, coach, RunningWithUs.