Running safely outdoors during summer

Former intern, Tanner Paulson, at Sanford POWER in Fargo, ND

By Tanner Paulson, CSCS

Sunshine and warmer temperatures mean one thing for runners who have been cooped up on the treadmill all winter and spring – Hello, Mother Nature! While this brings opportunity and training options for runners, it also means there are additional things to consider before taking your workout outside during the summer months. Being prepared to tolerate the summertime heat and humidity is just one. Here are some items to take into consideration before lacing up and heading out the door:

  • Optimal temperatures for running are between 40° – 60° Fahrenheit (1).
  • Consider working out in the early morning to avoid the daytime heat and humidity.
  • When running in the daytime heat, ditch your predetermined pace and run by feel or your perceived effort. A 1 to 2% loss of running economy occurs with each 1.5° F increase in temperature beyond 60°F (1).
  • Research shows it takes roughly 10-14 days – and sometimes longer – to acclimate to the heat. Gradually increase duration and intensity during your initial period outside (2).
  • Keep in mind that simply exposing yourself to warmer environments will not result in the necessary adaptations – the body learns to sweat more efficiently when training in hot weather (1).
  • Hydration is key with any workout – and even more so when exercising in warmer temperatures. Two hours before starting, try to consume 16 ounces of fluid. Mild dehydration occurs with just a 2-3% decrease in weight and can significantly impair performance (3).
  • Athletes should consider consuming a sports drink during runs lasting longer than 1 hour to replace electrolytes lost through sweat (3).
  • Select light colored, loose fitting, and breathable clothing to help combat the warmer temperatures.
  • Be aware of possible symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion. These could include: cramps, nausea, dizziness, difficulty in walking or standing, faintness, garbled speech, either an absence of or excessive sweating, red or ashen skin, and goose bumps (3).

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to consider before running outside. However, these reminders and recommendations should suit you well in getting yourself prepared for your run outside this summer.


  1. Pierce, William James, Ray Moss, and Scott Murr. Run less, run faster: become a faster, stronger runner with the revolutionary 3-runs-a-week training program. Revised ed. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2012. Print.
  2. “Heat Exhaustion.” Korey Stringer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017. <>.
  3. Haff, Greg, and N. Travis Triplett. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. 4th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2016. Print.