Try running at night to beat the summer heat

During the sweaty summer months, running at night is a great change of pace to beat the heat.

When the sun goes down, the road cools off and you can tackle your training program. Your genetic predisposition is already a struggle, you don’t need to add running in the heat to make your journey more difficult. One of the key tenets of chubby running is to clear obstacles from your path. Simplify and remove obstacles. 

To start, let’s chat about the dangers of running in the heat.

running in the heat

Potential dangers of running in the heat

During the summer months, hot weather and humidity add stress to the body. 

And that’s just standing still. When you add a training run to the mix, it makes it even harder for the body to function properly.

The body sends extra blood to circulate through the skin as a means of cooling. This process diverts resources away from the muscles, which boosts heart rate. These mechanisms leave the body vulnerable to heat illness and ailments.

Heat Cramps

These cramps are painful contractions occurring mainly in the calves, quadriceps, and abdominals.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion causes body temperatures to rise north of 104 degrees. Symptoms include the following.

  • Clammy skin
  • Dizzy spells
  • Fainting
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
heat stroke

Heat Stroke

With heat stroke, body temperature can rise in excess of 104 degrees. The body will feel hot to the touch, but without sweat.

Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to the following.

  • Brain damage
  • Organ failure
  • Death (in extreme cases)

The way to deal with any type of heat illness is preparation and avoidance.

run at night

Avoid the heat with a night run

The biggest difference between night and day is obvious. 

What’s not as obvious for most new runners is that running at night is an option. When I first started running it didn’t even occur to me that night running was an option. Not only is it an option, but it is also a great tool for chubby runners to use as an alternative to running in the heat.

It’s cooler running at night

With the sun out of the picture, running at night is considerably cooler. Not only temperature-wise but also in the coolness factor. Running at night is stealthy and dark like Batman.

The stigma of running at night

Nighttime running does have a stigma. 

It kind of goes with the perceived mindset of the running community. The model runner is disciplined, productive, and calculated, getting up at 5:30 a.m. to run 6 miles before most people start their day. So if that is true, then those who don’t live by that standard are not model runners. Well, the stigma has been busted. Smart chubby runners look for advantages and solve problems.

Running at night is smart

It’s hot and muggy during the day. The logical way to solve that problem is to run when it’s not hot and muggy. Thus, running at night is a smart, out-of-the-box, alternative to beat the summer heat.

night running

Overcoming the hurdles of running at night

When I first decided to try night running, there were some differences and obstacles to overcome. And just like anything else in running, the first time is the most difficult then it gets progressively easier over time. 

Physical hurdles of night running

Running at night has its own set of hurdles. 

Late-night running extends your physical activity much longer than normal. When it comes time to do your run, you’ve already worked all day, spent time with family, and finished your daily routine. Making sure your body is prepped to go that extra few hours is essential. 

Prep the body for a late-night run

Planning to run after the world goes to bed requires you to get your body prepared to endure. This includes stretching, walking throughout the day to keep the blood flowing, and a good warm-up walk or jog before you begin. Sitting at a desk all day will be one of the biggest detriments to your body’s endurance level. Make sure you stand and stretch throughout the day.

Fuel for running at night

Your body will need calories to propel you through the darkness. That means you’ll need to be mindful of what you consume in the latter part of the day. Make it a point to have a solid afternoon snack to keep your glycogen levels up. 

If you’re running really late, make sure your dinner is full of nutrients, greens, and lean meat, and stay away from fried food or dairy before a long late-night run.

Mental hurdles of running at night

Most people who run at night, do so after work, dinner, and family time. It really depends on the distance you are trying to cover.

In addition to the distance, you’ll also need to figure out a warm-up time, cool-down time, and bedtime and then work backward. This takes some mental planning.

Night running is all about planning

For example, if you know it takes you about 90 minutes to run 9 miles, adding a 10-minute warm-up and a 20-minute cooldown, puts you at 120 minutes (2 hours) of total workout time. If you leave after sunset at 8:30 p.m., that puts you at 10:30 p.m. Shower and eat, wind down, and breathe, you’re in bed by 11 p.m. 

late night run

Safety tips for running at night

One of the biggest transitions to night running has to do with your personal safety. 

It takes some getting used to, but with proper planning, night running should allow you to get your workout in with minimal risk. Here are some things to consider before you venture out into the night.

Running at night should be simple

Since this is relatively new territory, make it easy on yourself, and celebrate the win.

Instead of doing a 5-mile run, find a 2.5-mile course and double it. This keeps you closer to home if you need to stop. And you’re already familiar with the area. For safety’s sake, you can tell your family where you’ll be running in case of an emergency.

Visibility is key to night running

You’ll really want to stand out when running after dark. This includes wearing bright colors with reflective material to be visible to on-coming traffic.

Running in well-lit areas

Since you’re already familiar with the territory, find areas of your city or town that are well-lit. This helps you to see better and remain safe while running. 

Night Equipment

To be even safer, there’s some equipment, like headlamps or strobe light vests, that you could get for additional visibility. 

reflective vest for night running
  • Reflective Vest
  • Headlamp
  • Flashing Light
headlamp for night running

Should I listen to music when running at night?

This is really a personal preference. 

For the safest late-night run, you should make sure all your senses are heightened. That includes your ears. If you’re listening to music while you run at night, you may not be able to hear potential dangers. However, if you are running in familiar areas that are well-lit, you could probably get away with listening to music while you run. I have done it both ways, so it’s really a personal decision based on your safety and comfort level.

Final thoughts on running at night

Training during the summer months can be brutal.

Running at night is a great way to beat the heat. To simplify your life and remove obstacles, killing yourself running in the heat and humidity just doesn’t work. When the sun goes down you can gain new ground by embracing the night running lifestyle. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll switch over completely. At least now you’re equipped with some tips to do so effectively and safely.