Running in the summer can be kind of miserable. From the oppressive heat to the excessive sweat to sunburns and constant thirst, it’s easy to get discouraged. It can be especially hard if you’re used to running in cooler temps, and not prepared. I feel strongly about making sure runners are prepared when they run in the heat because it can be downright dangerous. You may not realize how hot it actually is before your body is already affected and your heart rate has skyrocketed. I won’t lie, now that I’m used to it, I actually love running in the warmth. But I’ve been running for long enough to know that I need to be really careful if I want to enjoy it.
Making sure you’re prepared physically is the most important thing (hydration and fueling), but there are also some items that make running the heat a little more bearable (like seat covers and SPF,) and that’s what I’m talking about in this post.
I have five things that help my summer runs feel a little more tolerable, which you’ll see below.
And remember, all the gear in the world can’t make up for what your body will tell you in hot, tough conditions. Slow down when you need to, take walking breaks, and call it quits if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
I love having a seat cover in my car year-round, but it becomes especially essential in the summer when I am DRIPPING, literally head to toe, after a run or hard workout. That Southern humidity is no joke! Many times, I’ll start a run straight from my house, but I do have a few routes that require a short drive. I hate the feeling of sitting in my sweat, and I try to take good care of my car. It gets even nastier in the summer when sunscreen gets mixed with the sweat.
I have a Weathertech cover that’s specifically designed for my car and I LOVE IT. But, this one from Amazon looks very similar and is cheaper. They also make them with mesh ventilation which I’m sure is REALLY great. You could also bring a towel to lay over your seat if you’d rather not splurge on a seat cover, but towels slide all over and in my experience, don’t fully protect your seats.
Make sure whatever you use is easy to wash when it gets really gross. I try to wash my seat cover frequently so my sweat doesn’t dry on it.
Sunscreen is a MUST if you run in the daylight, and especially if you run between 10-2. But really, anytime I run when the sun is up, I put on sunscreen. I’m obsessed with Beautycounter sunscreen since I sweat a LOT and it stays on for my sweatiest, most humid runs. I use the mist on my body and the stick on my face.
Another nice thing about Beautycounter’s sunscreen is that it doesn’t leave as intense of a white cast that most mineral sunscreens do.
I ALWAYS choose a mineral sunscreen over a chemical based one since chemical based sunscreens damage coral reefs. And if they kill coral, I wonder what do they do to our body. But, the bottom line is, WEAR SUNSCREEN.
Side note: The Beautycounter sunscreen I use is safe enough to use on babies, so that’s what I use for Thomas as well.
Even when I don’t think I need water because it doesn’t feel that hot or my run isn’t that long, I have a rule that I carry water no matter what in the summer. Whether you’re on a long run or planning to run short, water is essential for hot days. The heat and humidity can really creep up, and I’ve had severe dehydration in the past when I got lost on a run and ended up with blood in my stool. (And I really should have taken myself to the ER.)
If your running route loops by your house, leave water outside so you can swing by mid-run for a refill if you’re on a long run. Or plan your route around water fountains. I always add an LMNT packet to my water too!
I LOVE THESE THINGS. I have literally five pairs of Goodrs because I love them so much. They don’t bounce and or slip, even on the sweatiest days. Plus, they’re only $25!
Also, I’ve yet to meet anyone – male or female – who doesn’t like their Goodrs so they seem to flatter all faces!
Maintaining proper electrolytes levels is key for runners. (Read more about why here.) And supplementing with electrolytes becomes even more important in the summer months when you sweat more, which is how you lose electrolytes.
I don’t like traditional sports drinks like Gatorade, so I supplement in other ways. My all time favorite is LMNT electrolyte tablets (get a free LMNT Sample Pack with any order you place through this link). I also love coconut water post run. Headache, nausea and lightheadedness can be common if you aren’t careful to re-hydrate and eat something.
Keeping the sun off your face will help keep you cool (and help prevent signs of aging!), but I find that hats are too hot for me since they can trap heat. I like wearing a visor for more breathability while still getting protection from the sun. I’ve heard some people soak their hats or visors in ice water or freeze them before a run to help keep them cool. Genius!
I’ve tried countless brands of running socks, but I really love the Bombas and Injinji socks. They’re both breathable and sweat-wicking. The Bombas are soft but still fitted and the Injiji’s are great since my toes are prone to overlapping in my shoes, even in shoes with wide toe boxes like Altras. Read about all of the best running socks for all types of runners in this review.
There’s nothing worse that thick socks in the summer. I’m always looking for breathable and thin socks, especially for running in the heat. Running socks can affect your running performance more than you’d think, so it’s important to choose socks that keep your feet dry and blister-free. The WORST thing is getting a few miles into a run and realizing you have to run back home with a budding blister. You’ll likely adjust your gait to compensate for the pain and that can lead to bigger injuries. And your feet are more prone to blisters during hot, humid runs so prioritize good socks!
I chafe a lot more in the summer. Aside from wearing fitted shorts to help protect my poor inner thighs, I have to use Body Glide before every run. I also tend to chafe at my bra line (front and back) so I apply it there as well.
You probably already know this, but wearing cotton will absolutely ruin your run. There’s nothing worse than your clothes getting wet and feeling heavy your whole run, making you hot and irritable. It’s so important to wear moisture wicking and quick drying fabrics to cool your body down. Opt for short sleeves over long sleeves, and a sports bra with breathable fabric.
These are some of my favorites sweat wicking clothes.
I recommend shoes with mesh ventilation uppers too, so that your feet can breathe!
And I also highly recommend body glide because it prevents chafing. I tend to chafe at my bra line (front and back) so I apply it there as well as my thighs. And, I wear a hat or a visor for most hot runs. I tend to lean towards a visor since that doesn’t trap as much heat. I have friends who soak their running hat in cold water and wearing it during their SUPER hot runs. Bonus points for leaving an extra hat in a cooler with ice next to your water bottle refill mid-run!
If you’re heading out to run in the hot summer heat, make sure to prepare! I hope this post helps you enjoy those sweaty miles. And remember to plan to run during the cooler parts of the day (before 10am and after 4pm)!
What do you change up for summer running? Any must-have summer running gear?