3 Tips For Running Outside In Unbearable Summer Humidity
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
With spring in full bloom and summer on the horizon, we're starting to experience increasingly higher temperatures, and well above average humidity (at least, if you live somewhere that gets humid). And if you're a runner, that humidity could be the difference between you hitting the pavement or surrendering to the air-conditioned bliss of the gym.
While running inside and outside both have their own benefits, getting outside has superior mental health benefits, and we shouldn't let a little humidity stand in our way. Instead, we should just look to the experts and take whatever advice they have for running on those muggier days. We asked a few—here's what they recommend.
Make sure you dress appropriately.
Humidity paired with sunshine can make the day feel much hotter than it actually is, and you'll have the sweat to prove it. Wearing the wrong materials can lead to overheating and chafing—two fates we would prefer to avoid.
"Wear light-colored clothes to stay cool. A visor can help keep the sun out of your eyes while still allowing you to release heat from your head. Sunglasses can also be a game-changer. Avoid cotton to stay cool, comfortable, and reduce chafing."
—Elizabeth Corky, elite marathoner, RRCA-certified running coach
"Do not wear cotton! Cotton absorbs humidity and sweat. Not only will this make you feel like you're running with a weighted shirt, but it can also cause chafing!"
—Corinne Fitzgerald, NSCA-certified personal trainer and triathlete, running coach
Make sure to hydrate and get enough electrolytes.
As mentioned, higher humidity means you're likely to sweat more than usual. Given that we lose a lot of water and sodium when we sweat, staying hydrated and keeping our electrolyte levels up is necessary to successfully run in high humidity.
"Hydrate throughout the day. Utilize electrolytes during runs lasting more than 90 minutes or after a hot run. Be sure to eat foods with potassium, like potatoes and bananas, and sodium to help replenish lost electrolytes."
"Make sure you've consumed enough electrolytes! When it's hot and humid, we sweat and lose a lot of our electrolytes. Having foods that have potassium and sodium, aka salt, in them will help keep your energy high. I always crave a pickle when it's humid out for the salt!"
Don't push the pace—be patient, and get acclimated.
Simply put, it's easier to run outside when the weather is beautiful. Running in humidity is more difficult, and you can't expect to perform the same way, especially on your first humid run. Give yourself time to acclimate to the humidity, and adjust your expectations.
"Accept that your times will not be as fast. It's really easy to get stuck comparing ourselves to old times and paces, specifically in better weather. Running in humidity is like a poor man's altitude training. It feels like you cannot get enough oxygen because the air is thicker. So give yourself a break and run by feel when it's humid out!"
"Focus on effort over pace for the first few weeks of summer-like conditions. It takes time to acclimate to heat and humidity. In extreme conditions, we struggle to stay cool and regulate core temperature. Be patient and embrace summer."
Ready to run? Here's a pre-run stretching warmup that will keep you injury-free, and here's the truth about running inside vs. outside.
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