Running in Humidity: How to Beat the Performance Drain

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Humidity can be a challenging factor for runners, as it can significantly impact their performance. When the air is saturated with moisture, it becomes difficult for sweat to evaporate from the skin, making it harder for the body to cool down. This can lead to increased body temperature, decreased exercise capacity, and a higher risk of heat-related illnesses. In this article, we will explore the effects of humidity on running performance, understand the impact of dew point, and provide tips on how to overcome the challenges of running in humid conditions.

People running in a humid environment

Understanding the Impact of Dew Point on Running

Dew point is a term used to describe the temperature at which air becomes saturated, causing condensation to occur. It is an important factor to consider when running in humid conditions because it indicates how close the air is to being saturated. The higher the dew point, the more moisture is present in the air, making it harder for sweat to evaporate.

When the dew point is high, runners may experience a decrease in their ability to cool down through sweating. This is because the rate of evaporation is slower, which can result in a buildup of heat within the body. As a result, runners may feel more fatigued, have a higher heart rate, and experience a decline in performance.

How Humidity Affects Your Running Performance

High humidity levels can have a significant impact on your running performance. Here are some ways in which humidity affects runners:

  1. Increased perceived exertion: Running in humid conditions can make the effort feel more difficult than it actually is. The combination of heat and moisture in the air can make breathing feel more labored, leading to a higher perceived level of effort.
  2. Decreased endurance: The body’s ability to cool down through sweating is compromised in high humidity. This can lead to an increase in core body temperature, which can result in fatigue and a decrease in endurance.
  3. Reduced pace: Due to the increased effort required to run in humid conditions, runners may find it challenging to maintain their usual pace. The combination of heat and humidity can make it harder to sustain a fast pace, resulting in slower race times or training runs.
  4. Increased risk of dehydration: When running in humid conditions, the body loses more fluids through sweating. It is crucial to stay properly hydrated to compensate for the increased fluid loss and prevent dehydration.

Tips to Overcome the Challenges of Running in Humidity

While running in humidity can be demanding, there are several strategies that can help you overcome the challenges and improve your performance. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Choose the right time of day: Try to schedule your runs during the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler and the humidity is lower.
  2. Wear appropriate clothing: Opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that allow sweat to evaporate quickly. Avoid cotton as it can trap moisture and make you feel even hotter.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your runs to maintain optimal hydration levels. Consider carrying a water bottle or hydrating pack with you on longer runs.
  4. Acclimate to the conditions: Gradually expose yourself to running in humid conditions to allow your body to adapt. Start with shorter runs and gradually increase your distance and intensity.
  5. Take breaks as needed: Listen to your body and take breaks or walk when necessary. Running continuously in high humidity can be challenging, and it’s important to prioritize your safety and well-being.
  6. Cool down properly: After your run, take the time to cool down properly by stretching and hydrating. This can help lower your body temperature and prevent post-run fatigue.

Hydration Strategies for Running in High Humidity

Proper hydration is essential when running in high humidity to prevent dehydration and maintain performance. Here are some hydration strategies to consider:

  • Pre-run hydration: Drink 16-20 ounces of water or a sports drink 2-3 hours before your run to ensure you are adequately hydrated.
  • During-run hydration: Aim to drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes during your run. Consider using a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.
  • Post-run hydration: Rehydrate after your run by drinking at least 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during exercise. Include water, electrolyte drinks, or recovery beverages in your post-run routine.

Adjusting Your Training to Cope with Humid Conditions

When faced with humid conditions, it may be necessary to adjust your training to ensure optimal performance and avoid heat-related illnesses. Here are some training adjustments to consider:

The Science Behind Sweating and Humidity in Running

Sweating is the body’s natural mechanism to cool down during exercise. When the sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools the body and helps regulate temperature. However, in humid conditions, the moisture in the air makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate, hindering the cooling effect.

High humidity reduces the effectiveness of sweating as a cooling mechanism, leading to increased body temperature and a higher risk of heat-related illnesses. The body’s ability to dissipate heat is compromised, resulting in a decline in performance and an increased perceived level of effort.

Understanding the science behind sweating and humidity can help runners develop effective strategies to cope with the challenges of running in humid conditions. By adjusting their training, staying properly hydrated, and implementing appropriate techniques, runners can optimize their performance and reduce the negative effects of humidity.


Q1: Does running in humidity burn more calories?
A1: Running in humidity does not directly lead to burning more calories. However, the increased effort required to run in humid conditions may result in a higher perceived level of exertion.

Q2: How does humidity affect breathing during running?
A2: Humidity can make breathing feel more labored during running. The combination of heat and moisture in the air can lead to a higher perceived level of effort and make it harder to breathe comfortably.

Q3: Can running in humidity improve performance in cooler conditions?
A3: While running in humidity can be challenging, it can potentially improve performance in cooler conditions. The increased effort required to run in humidity can enhance cardiovascular fitness and mental toughness, which can translate to improved performance in more favorable conditions.

Q4: Can humidity cause muscle cramps during running?
A4: High humidity alone may not directly cause muscle cramps. However, excessive sweating combined with inadequate hydration and electrolyte imbalance can contribute to muscle cramping during running.

Q5: Should I run indoors on humid days?
A5: Running indoors on humid days can be a viable alternative to outdoor runs. Treadmills or indoor tracks provide controlled environments with fans or air conditioning, which can help mitigate the effects of humidity.

Q6: What is the ideal humidity for running?
A6: The ideal humidity for running varies for each individual. Generally, a dew point below 60°F is considered more comfortable for running, while a dew point above 70°F can significantly impact performance.

Q7: Can wearing a hat or visor help in humid conditions?
A7: Wearing a hat or visor in humid conditions can provide some shade and help reduce direct exposure to the sun. It can also help prevent sweat from dripping into the eyes, providing some relief during the run.

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