How to run in extreme heat? Ask a 'Son of the Desert'

Last weekend I made a classic summer racing mistake. I hit the snooze button. I really just wanted an extra hour of sleep, and surely ...


Last weekend I made a classic summer racing mistake. I hit the snooze button. I really just wanted an extra hour of sleep, and surely the heat couldn’t get much worse a little later, could it?

When I rolled myself out of that comfy bed and soft, gentle air conditioning, I was hit with a wave of regret, warmth, and smoldering humidity. I knew it was coming. My long run was more like a long job.

When you have to go out for a run and the temperatures are high, no matter what time you wake up, how do you get your workout right? Of course, I know the basic tips. But how do extreme athletes excel in these conditions?

I talked to Max Calderan, whose Instagram account is titled “Sons of the Desert”, for advice. Calderan, a 55-year-old desert explorer – who describes himself as a 25-year-old “who’s spent too much time in the sun” – has spent much of his life training for long treks across climates most extreme in the world. In February 2020, he crossed the Rub’ al Khali desert in the Arabian Peninsula, some 700 miles in temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. He could surely tell me how to train better in the heat.

“The key word here is deprivation,” he began. Oh man. I asked him to come back to the suggestions. We’re talking about running in the heat, I clarified, not necessarily running hundreds of miles through untouched desert.

Here are some of his top tips for the average athlete:

This interview has been condensed and edited.

On time : The best thing to do is to start your physical activity early in the morning or late at night. If you spend all day in the office with the air conditioning on, and then run in high temperatures, you will of course feel tired! Start adapting. Turn off the AC in the car or turn on the AC so it’s only on your feet, not directly on your face.

On hydration: Match what your body needs. The best energy drink there is is water with lemon juice and a small amount of salt. Drink this during the day. Drink small amounts of water often, every 15 minutes or 30 minutes.

On the clothes : It sounds weird, but start running and working out wearing clothes that fully cover your body. Start trying to feel the difference between running in shorts and a t-shirt and long pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. Synthetic material, of course. The more air there is between your body and the outside environment, the less hot air you feel.

On shoes: If you run a lot in hot weather, you may need to buy a pair of shoes one size larger than what you normally wear. In hot weather, your feet may start to swell.

Have an athlete mentality: You have to think of yourself as an athlete. You’re not a runner then an ordinary person because you work in an office or something. You’re a 24-hour runner, so you have to eat, drink, and think like an athlete.



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