Change the pace – exercising in hot, hot heat

It’s the middle of summer in Edmonton. Usually this means lots of sunshine, some hot days, and pretty temperate weather. Sometimes it means cool mornings, or hot days and afternoon or nighttime thunderstorms.

A couple weeks ago we had a stretch of incredibly hot weather. It was so hot in fact that we reached the hottest temperature ever recorded in Edmonton. The actual temperature was only 33 C but with the humidex it reached 43 C.


I’m sure people in Texas or on the East coast would laugh but it’s definitely hotter than we’re used to as a typically dry climate.

I generally wear a heart rate monitor to train but more out of interest, as I don’t train in HR zones or anything.

I know I struggle to get my heart rate up, even when climbing hills on the bike.  On the hottest day ever recorded I had an easy bike on the schedule after work.

I lubed up with sunscreen (my back is still in pain from Coeur d’Alene) and went for a spin. My cycling computer showed a temperature of 35C on the black highway.

As expected, my heart rate was much higher than normal. On flats, pedaling easy, my heart rate was what it normally is when I’m pushing hard up a hill.

With that in mind, here are some ways people can train on those hot summer days.

  1. Lower your expectations. Don’t expect to keep a pace you would on a mild or cool day. Your heart rate will be higher, making your effort feel much greater. Ditch the watch and run by feel instead of pace!
  2. Change the time of day you exercise. Go before work when temperatures are lower, or save your workout for late evening after the sun has gone down. (But check the humidity first since those times are sometimes higher!)
  3. Change your activity. If you have a tough workout planned, save it for another day. Hit shaded trails instead of the open road, let yourself take walking breaks, or cycle (where you’ll get a breeze) instead of run.
  4. Move it inside. Take your workout inside to the treadmill or bike trainer, join that class you’ve always wanted to try, or get in a good cross-training session by swimming.
  5. Stay hydrated. Drink throughout the day to stay well hydrated before you get out there. And take in electrolytes instead of simply water to ensure you replace what you sweat out.

Even by training smarter and trying to prevent heat-related illness, be careful out there. Everybody handles heat and humidity differently.

Harold trying to stay cool on the shaded grass!

Harold trying to stay cool on the shaded grass!

I’m glad we had a few hot days so my body could experience it. I have no idea what the weather will be like for Ironman Whistler, so I want to train in all conditions!

Oh, and we had a raging thunderstorm that night and enjoyed a slumber party in the cooler basement!

What’s the hottest temperature you have ran in?

In Ko Samui our morning runs were H-O-T! The daily temperatures rose to over 45C with the humidity, and I’m sure mornings were almost the same!

Chime in! What are your hot/humid running tips?

41 responses to “Change the pace – exercising in hot, hot heat

  1. Awesome tips for surviving the heat! It’s been very hot & humid where we live, and I’ve definitely had to adjust my training expectations. The other day I went out for a 7-mile run and cut it short because I was really suffering in the heat. My husband and I love to run on the trails in the summer and take advantage of the shade!

  2. Oh it’s always year-round humidity in boston, so I havent had a good hair day since 2008 but i generally dont even notice it anymore- EXCEPT over the course of the past week. wow its hot here. i cant workout outside when its like this- i walk to and from work every day which is a mile each way, and yesterday i decided to go to the grocery store after work which is another 2 miles tacked on to that- holy sweat stains batman- i was so gross by the time i got home carrying everything, i had to hang up my work clothes like i normally would my workout clothes to dry out. so gross.

    • Ha ha ha- I love that you say you haven’t had a good hair day since ’08! Where did you live before?
      That’s insane how humid it must be to hang your work clothes! No wonder you have to go to the beach!

  3. That heat is insaneeeee! I remember living in Toronto last summer and we had multiple days that felt like 45.. it was awful. I eventually got a gym membership because I couldn’t run outside.. I did once and it was bad news bears. Hopefully your temperatures aren’t as high anymore and you can enjoy training outside a little more!

    • Toronto gets pretty humid, too, doesn’t it? I imagine that even when it’s super hot in Victoria, you get a nice ocean breeze!

      • Oh yeah, Toronto was awwwfuullll. I was sweating just standing. (tmi!) Victoria is fantastic, you’re exactly right – even on a hot day, we always have a breeze which is perfect!

  4. It has been hot here in Southern California too! My body is still trying to acclimate to the warmer temps. The hottest I have run in was 95F a few weeks. I made the mistake of running at 3:30 in the afternoon (the hottest part of the day) and the 5 mile run was brutal. Thanks for the running tips. I know I need to change my mind-set during these warmer months and not worry too much about my time. 🙂

    • It is hard to change your mindset to not worry about time! I know in winter when my pace drastically slows due to traction and cold I’m always scared I’ve somehow become way slower!

  5. Many years ago, I used to run in the middle of the afternoon in west Texas all summer long (easily 100+ every day). Now, just thinking about that makes me kind of nauseous!!! I do a lot more treadmill running now that I’m older (and wiser!).

  6. Great tips!! I have no problem getting up early and working out to keep cool. The problem is: if I am training for a race that is going to be hot, I like to train in the heat. BUT it is miserable!!
    I like to pour water on top of my head to keep cool!
    I think low 90s is the warmest I have exercised in. Mainly races when I could not do anything about it!!

  7. I HATE running in the heat!! My first half marathon was in California, and it was like 90F by the time it was 9:00am I swear..IT WAS SO HOT!! I wanted to die. I love these tips, and follow them religiously!

  8. GREAT tips. It’s so important to remember. I’m amazed that you were able to get out at all in that weather. Stay cool! p.s. Love the pic of Harold. What kind of dog is he?

    • Ha ha- they told us he is part Jack Russell/Rat Terrier and part Yorkie. But, he weighs almost double what they said he would! And his energy levels are through the roof!

  9. I’ve run in over 100 Farenheit (38 C) weather before….I would not recommend it.

  10. Great tips. It’s so important to remember the impact that heat and humidity have on our heart rate and training. Interesting the differences you noticed on your ride.

  11. Ran outside twice in 80+ degree heat just last week. This week her in the C-bus (that’s Columbus for those who don’t know) temps are in the 90s. I stayed inside and enjoyed the treadmill yesterday.

  12. It is disgustingly hot in buffalo, too! about 95 f and 70% humidity, its like walking through warm soup, its so gross, you cant do your hair or makeup it just melts and frizzes away!! GROSS! I am doing all work outs inside if I dont get them done before 7, it was already almost 80 degrees today by 7 am…which is awful!

  13. Oh Celsius, still looks hot.

    I went running with the babe and totally forgot water, I then took a seriously look at my beginner mistake and will do everything to be better prepared. It’s super easy to get overheated without even realizing it.
    These tips are worth stressing!

  14. I’ve ran in 90 degrees and let’s just say I’ve changed my hot weather activity since!

  15. Oh I don’t run in heat. although this AM on the treadmill is was easily 80 at 5AM. I love summer but I hate the heat! Hope your back heals soon!!

    • That is crazy it was so hot at 5am. I think hot treadmill runs are much harder than hot outdoor runs!
      We ran on treadmills in our hotel gym in Bangkok. AFter just five miles, we were soaked with sweat. I wish we knew the heat and humidity in that room!

  16. These are great suggestions… I think I adhere to working out at a different time of day the most often. Staying hydrated, listening to your body for signs of significant stress from the heat, and changing your expectations about what the workout will look like is also key. I think I ran a month or so ago when it was in the 90s. That was really stupid. 😉

  17. I have not been motivated to work out, at all, lately! My runs have been late at night when the sun goes down or inside but the heat is just unbearable! I have to find a way to get through it or find some other workout to do because running is just brutal right now. I think the heat is also effecting my knee? Does that happen? Haha my knee caps are very loose so they tend to pop out and I have been feeling a lot of pain lately.. but I just may be over doing it.

  18. I didn’t know Edmonton could get that hot! The hottest I’ve run in that I can remember is 105F/40C (actual temp, plus heat index). I’m frequently running at noon when the thermometer reads 100F/38C – it slows me way down, but I’d still rather be running in those temps than sitting at my desk during my lunch break!

  19. Glad to hear your heart rate was soaring in the heat too! I’ve been having a tough time with the heat for sure!

  20. runnerbydefault

    Storms like that are so scary!! I love the heat but the humidity zaps me!! I need to work on hydration. I am not a water drinker at all.

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