Tolerating the Heat

Topo Ambassador, Barbara Roman, shares her top 10 tips for running in hot weather.

After an unseasonably cool spring here in the Las Vegas desert, the heat wave is finally starting to roll in! With highs in the 100s and lows in the 80s, any time of the day is HOT and not necessarily enjoyable to run in.

I’ve lived in the desert for 6 years and after lots of research and testing out different solutions, I have some tips and tricks to make running in the heat bearable!

1. Slow down: Heat will make you slower! Take your pace down and keep an eye on your heart rate, if you monitor it, or evaluate your body using perceived effort. Change your miles into time on your feet. Don’t stay out longer than needed! I run on the trails, so when my training plan says “6 miles,” I’ll change it to “an hour on my feet” because I know I will be going slower.

2. Start early: Get up and get out there! The coolest part of the day is before the sun rises. Get your run done before the heat hits.

3. Or wait until the sun goes down: Personally, I love running in the evening. The temps are still pretty warm, but as long as the sun isn’t beating down on your skin, it’s way more bearable! Vegas is surrounded by mountains and when the sun finally goes behind them, it’s shady and wonderful!

4. Acclimate: Try doing shorter runs during the day when temps are highest. Doing this a couple of times a week can help your body get used to hot weather running.

5. Always carry hydration: Always, always, always have some type of hydration on you! Dehydration is serious and it can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I always have a handheld or a bladder, depending on the length of my run. Adding electrolytes is a bonus, Skratch Labs is one of my favorites, or take electrolyte tablets. Just make sure your adding something to your water to keep you from getting dehydrated.

6. Dress appropriately: Wear light colors, lightweight materials, UPF clothing, shorts, tanks, or no shirt! Just make sure to wear sunscreen!

7. Wear a hat: Hats cover your face, which is great! I seriously suggest investing in a bucket hat! Bucket hats cover your face, ears and neck, which helps keep you cool.

8. Get some cool gear: My go-to gear: Kool Tie and UPF arm sleeves. The Kool Tie gets soaked in water and then worn around your neck to keep your body cool, plus it comes in fun colors! The arm sleeves allow you to protect your skin from the sun and keep you cool – dump water on them for lasting cooling effects! I also like using bandannas filled with ice, especially during races where aid stations will have ice for you to use!

9. Plan your route: If running on pavement, are there water fountains available or local running stores that will allow you to refill your bottles? If running on the trails, try to do loops where you can stop back at your car and create your own mini aid station where you can fill up! Look for routes with shade too!

10. Take a trip: Here in Las Vegas, if we drive an hour north we can get to a mountain range and hit elevation with cooler temps! I know it’s not possible for everyone, but if you have a big or important long run on your training calendar, try to get out of town to a cooler area.

Just because it’s summertime and super-hot, doesn’t mean you have to stop training. Train smart and the heat will make you a tougher athlete!

About Barbara

Barbara is a preschool teacher and trail ultra runner who lives in Las Vegas. She is currently training for the SOB 100K and Javelina Jundred. She enjoys traveling and exploring new trails wherever they can be found. Follow her adventures via Instagram @babzaroni.