What To Wear To Run In The Heat & Sun

A warm run isn’t the same as a warm day.

Since runners feel temperatures around them as 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is, the definition of “warm” shifts, starting much lower than you might think.

Studies of long-distance runners have found temperatures right around 50° F (12° C) to be the perfect temperature for endurance running, with performance suffering as the mercury rises. (The same isn’t true for sprinting, where temperatures in the mid-70s have actually been found to improve performance.)

That makes 50 degrees the rough median when it comes to endurance running temperatures, with anything falling below that threshold considered “cold” and anything above it considered “warm.”

It also makes the block of 50 to 60 degrees the rough divider between dressing for cold-weather running and dressing for warm-weather running.

But, while in colder temperatures, many runners have to keep adding clothes for comfort as the temperature edges closer to zero.

On the flip-side, at 60 degrees and above, the general rule remains the same – keep clothing as loose and as minimal as possible.

What to Wear in the 50-60 Degree Block

hot run
In 50 degrees, some runners may still prefer to wear a long-sleeved base layer or jacket they can shed during a run, but, for many people, this is the temperature where you can start dressing as if it’s considerably warmer than it is.

Fifty-degree temperatures feel like 60 to 70-degree temperatures when you’re running, so for your run consider:

  • Shorts (either loose or tightly-fitted)
  • Short-sleeved shirt or tank top
  • Lightweight base layer or flexible synthetic jacket

By wearing a shorter-sleeved shirt under a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, you have the option of removing layers as you warm up.

For some people (especially smaller runners with less bodyweight), this temperature may still be a bit chilly for shorts.

In that case, opt for running tights/leggings, either full-length or capri.

They should keep you warm enough, while reducing the likelihood of overheating.

What to Wear Running in 60 Degree Weather

Once you reach 60° F, you’re right back to warm-weather running.

Unless you’re a person who tends to be cold all the time, it’s unlikely you’ll want long pants or sleeves at this temp.

What to wear:

  • Shorts
  • T-shirt or tank top
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (with bill)

This is the general running uniform for running outdoors in anything over 60 degrees.

When choosing running clothes, make sure you’re picking breathable synthetic fabrics that wick sweat.

Cotton is a poor choice because it’s too absorbent and will lock moisture against your skin, blocking the evaporation of moisture from your body, making you feel warmer, and increasing the possibility of overheating.

The important thing when choosing running clothes is to stay as cool as possible, especially in extreme temperatures.

And if you’re running while the sun’s up, sun protection becomes vitally important as well.

Running Clothes with UPF

While covering up can help protect you from the sun somewhat, fabric alone won’t keep out the sun’s harmful UV rays.

This is even more true of lightly-woven fabrics and lighter colors, which let in greater amounts of ultraviolet light than denser, darker fabrics.

If you want the best sun protection when you run, you should look for running shorts, shirts, or tights with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which will help protect the skin beneath your clothes.

Sunscreen

As for everything that’s not under your clothes, protect it by lathering up with sunscreen.

It doesn’t matter how cool it feels outside, how thick the cloud cover is, or how much you don’t want to do it.

Regular sun exposure damages the skin, and increases your risk of skin cancer (studies have shown regular runners have higher incidences of skin cancer), so if you want to run outside you should consider sunscreen part of your required attire.

For the best protection, apply sunscreen to all visible areas of your body 30 minutes before heading out for your run to give it time to sink in and keep it from sweating right off.

Sunglasses & Hat

Just like it does damage to your skin, sun damages your eyes.

Protect those precious peepers by always wearing sunglasses when you run, regardless of cloud cover.

On the sunniest of days, you should also wear a billed hat for further eye protection and to protect the delicate skin of your face. (You can certainly wear a hat on cloudy days too, but it won’t do as much good, as clouds scatter sunlight, making it harder to block out the rays.)

Running Outfit for Indoors

While warm-weather running guidance is mostly about running outside in natural heat, generally speaking you can expect an indoor run, whether on a climate-controlled track or a treadmill at the gym, to be a warm run.

To be the most comfortable on an indoor run, stick to the warm weather staple outfit of shorts and t-shirt/tank top to keep from overheating and get the most out of your workout.

Temperature below 60 degrees where you are? Switch to What to Wear to Run in the Cold.

Need more general guidance on dressing for your warm-weather run? Check out Everything You Need To Know About What to Wear Running.

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