Top tips for training and racing in the heat

Top tips for training and racing in the heat

By Lia Stubbings. Marketing at ZONE3 

Runner, swimmer, cyclist, triathlete and recently turned ultrarunner! 

Last weekend I took on my first ultramarathon which just so happened to fall on the hottest day of the year so far. Running 50km in 30-degrees definitely wasn’t easy, but there were things I kept doing to keep the heat at bay. If you’re training this weekend or taking part in a race, take these little tips and tricks with you.

Time of day is important! 

This one is pretty self-explanatory but get up and out before the midday sun or wait until late evening if you can when it’s much cooler. Of course, this isn’t possible if you’re taking part in an event that starts at a certain time, but if you’re heading out for a training run, try to stick to cooler parts of the day.  

Chase the shade  

Trails are often a lot cooler to run on than roads, so if you can, find a nice shady route to keep you covered from the heat of the sun.  

Keep covered to keep cool 

This one sounds counter intuitive but covering up to keep cool really helps. I wore a lightweight technical t-shirt for my ultra which stopped me from getting burnt on my shoulders and chest. I also made sure to wear a breathable cap throughout the day, not a visor! I knew I was going to be exposed to the sun all day and I really didn’t want to end up with a burnt head.


I will hammer home to anyone who will listen about how important SPF is. We should be wearing SPF 50 on our faces all year round, not just in the summer months. If you’re heading out this weekend, make sure to apply a factor 50 sun cream before you go out. There are a lot of sports ones on the market that are sweat and water resistant. Make sure you apply it to your face, the back of your neck, the tops of your ears and any exposed areas. The last thing you want is to come back from your run or race with a sunburn. As I was in the sun for several hours, I kept reapplying it throughout the day too.  

Hydration is key  

Whether you’re heading out for a 5km shakeout or 50km ultra, take water and electrolytes with you. If you have an event on Sunday, start adding electrolytes to your water a couple of days in advance to help your body stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your event and especially the day before.  

Salt tablets  

Salt tablets were my best friend at the ultra! I was struggling about halfway through from nausea due to the heat and a fellow runner offered me some of her salt tablets and it perked me right up. I continued to take them throughout the remaining 25km to keep me going. I would advise carrying these with you and taking them throughout your run/race, especially if it’s a long session. I had the Salt Stick Fast Chews in Lemon & Lime flavour. If you’re new to salt tablets like I was, don’t be put off by their name! The ones I had were not salty at all, they just work to maintain your electrolyte levels, reduce heat stress, and boost stamina.  

Dunk your hat and get a cool towel!  

At every water station and checkpoint, they had hat dunking buckets. If you’re able to, dunk your hat in cold water and put it straight onto your head, it works a treat! I also did this with a buff I kept around my wrist. My secret life saving device was my cool towel. I got it from Amazon and it’s a game changer for running in the heat. You wet it, wring, shake it out and it stays ice cold. I kept it around my neck (and it actually made its way onto my head under my hat for a bit too when I got really warm).  

Don’t be a hero  

If you need to slow down or walk to get your heart rate down, do! This sort of weather is not the time to be going for PB’s. Slow down if you need to, take on plenty of fluids, stick to the shade and cooler times of the day and if you feel it’s too hot to go out, don’t go. One or two missed training sessions isn’t going to be the be all and end all of your training!  

I hope these little tips help you on your next training session or race in the heat. If you try any, let us know how you got on and tag us on social media @ZONE3Official .