Running in the summer heat is tough, both mentally and physically. But if you put in the time and take steps to stay cool, you will reap the rewards come those fall and winter races!

I’ve been running in Phoenix since 2009. I started focusing on running outside and all year round in 2012. I’ve been there, done that, and here are my top 10 tips to staying cool in the summer heat.

  1. Go early (or late). I used to go for my runs at 8 pm after the sun had gone down. Of course, that was before I decided I wanted to be an endurance runner. It’s hard to go out on a Saturday or Sunday at 8 pm and run for a few hours. I now run in the morning when the lows are 85 or 90. When I work at home I can go at 5. If I have to go into the office I go at 4. 
  2. Hydrate, hydrate hydrate! Why three hydrates? Cuz you need to be hydrating before, during, and after. How much is dependent on your location and needs. I carry water on every run in the summer because of how dry it is here. Other people in different climates could probably get away with no water on shorter runs. I also supplement with electrolytes. For long runs, I take a bottle with me. Sometimes if I can tell I am more dehydrated after a run I will do an instant hydration drink. It’s really about paying attention to your body and trying to stay ahead of it.
  3. Wear protection. Especially if you will be out when the sun is. Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, bug spray.
  4. Wear light colors and light-weight clothing. Moisture-wicking is also great. Darker colors tend to absorb more sun and heat you up. 
  5. Go slow. In the summer my pace is slower than in the cooler months. Your summer pace might be 1-2 minutes slower than your usual pace.
  6. And with that said… Take walk breaks as needed. I walk a lot more in the summer. On long runs over 10 miles, I tend to run 2-3 miles then walk while I enjoy my chews.
  7. Plan your route based on shade, sprinklers, and other spots you can cool off at. I have stopped at a local park with a drinking fountain I can shove my head under. I run certain spots when I know the HOA is running the sprinklers. I try to have the sun on my back towards the end of my run because for me running towards the sun makes me feel hotter.
  8. Adjust your run schedule. Do you normally run 6 days a week? Take an extra day off from running and do an indoor cardio workout. Last summer I got an indoor bike and took one day off from running to ride instead. You don’t have to buy a bike. Look around online for video classes. You can find some for free on YouTube or get a subscription like Les Mills or Peloton. 
  9. Lower your expectations. It’s great to have a plan but also know you may not be able to do it exactly. Summer heat is tiring so maybe you can’t do track intervals but you can do a few sprints towards the end of an easy run. 
  10. Lastly, and most importantly, listen to your body! If you’re tired take a day off. If you need to walk, walk. Hell, I’ve sat down on 18 miles runs in July because I needed to let my body cool down a bit. 

I’ve tried a cooling towel but it didn’t work for me. It dried out in about 2 minutes. I think it’s too hot and dry here for it but it might be something that would work for you! They aren’t super expensive (this is $9 for two) so it might be worth it to try out. 

I know a lot of people will put ice in their hats or sports bras. I haven’t tried that yet but maybe I’ll test it out this summer. I’ve also heard people freeze their water bladder. I’ve added ice to mine, which keeps it cool for a short while. I may try freezing the bladder for those 16 milers. 

Let me know, what are your favorite ways to stay cool in the summer?

Did you know I have a youtube? You can head over there and watch this as a video!


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.