A request for advice: Running in the heat

Crowdsourcing some tips for how to handle the heat when out on a run

I’ll admit that I may have left this post too late. As I write, it’s 16 degrees Celsius and raining in my quiet Melbourne suburb. But today I’m trying something a little different. Normally when I write about exercise, I’m sharing tips on what has worked for me, some of my favourite workouts, and generally talking about what I’ve learned in my experience as an amateur runner. However, in this post, I’d like to share something that hasn’t worked for me, and hear about what has worked for you. The topic I’d love to learn from you is how to run in the heat.

One of the big changes moving from the UK to Australia is in the temperature. We make a lot of jokes about how the weather in Melbourne is basically the same as in the UK (it’s cold and rains a lot), but all that aside, there is still a considerable difference. The two years I’ve lived here have both been La Nina years (unusually), so it’s been relatively cold and damp, with few bush fires compared to previous years – something I’m very thankful for. Even in these conditions, I’ve been quite amazed by how hot the weather gets in the summer. Over the Christmas and New Year period it got so hot I was basically having to plan my days in terms of moving from one air conditioned space to another. Now, a lot of you will probably be asking what I mean by ‘so hot’. Sure, on the global scale I’m probably not talking all that dramatic. I’m thinking 34 degrees Celsius and up – some days we even reached into the early 40s. I don’t know about you, but that’s not a temperature I have really managed to acclimatise to. What’s more, these temperatures don’t really drop that much over night, so even in the early mornings it can still be in the high 20s.

Running and exercise have been a really big part of my sense of wellbeing, and I really notice, physically and mentally, when I have to go more than a few days without it. So how do I handle this when the weather takes a furnace-like turn? The simple answer so far has been that I haven’t! When it’s hot for more than a few days in a row, I just have to resign myself to not completing my exercise plan for that week. Thankfully I have other ways to tick off the work, with my bike-stand and rowing machine, but I still miss that particular rush you get from running, and it’s hard to maintain and build progress when you’re having to take breaks like this.

So today I’m reaching out to you, reader, and seeking your advice on what keeps you going in the heat! Running is a global sport, and there are people in far hotter countries (and areas of Australia!) than me who manage to keep up fantastic running programs. So how do you do it? What are your top-tips for staying cool and keeping going when the temperatures rise? With lockdown after lockdown keeping clubs closed, and living in a neighbourhood dominated by a university, I’ve not really found my running community here yet – so I’ll turn to my online one instead! I know runners are a really community-spirited bunch, happy to help each other out and share learning, so I hope I can tap into this. Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated! Perhaps when things hot up again here in Melbourne I can write another post to report back.

A huge thank you in advance to anyone who does choose to share some thoughts, tips or even just encouragement! I hope this post might prove useful for some other runners who, like me, are feeling the heat.

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