I guess I should tone down my exaggeration but I’ll save that for another day.
When I moved to Florida six years ago I was not prepared for the summer weather. Sure I knew it would be hot but the humidity adds a whole other layer of misery. Just sitting outside is rough let alone running. I wouldn’t by any means trade my hot running weather for the snow (you can quote me on that) but that doesn’t mean I don’t complain
every once in a while.
In all seriousness, running in the heat requires planning and precaution. If not approached properly, runners can become dehydrated and battle with heat exhaustion.
I fully understand how this can be seen as an expert post that I ranted about Tuesday but that is not my intention :)
MY summer running changes:
1. Adjust expectations. 4-5 miles is my sweet spot in the summer because anything longer than that seems to wear me down. Sure some days (usually on weekends) I run farther but that’s normally decided day-of. I have no issues bagging a run altogether if the weather doesn’t comply. Could I run on the treadmill? Yeah, but I don’t always want to.
This also goes for pace. I feel more sluggish in the heat and my pace “suffers.” I don’t run with a watch and sometimes forget to start my Run Keeper but I can still tell my pace is slower than in other months. Not a big deal to me. Part of my marathon training always occurs in hot months and during that time I keep my adjusted expectations in mind. You can’t have speed + distance in the heat all at once 24/7. At least I can’t.
2. Catch the worm. Run early. I’m always shocked when I see people running at noon in Florida. I understand that might be their only free time in the day but seriously, running in the heat is not a badge of honor. Run early in the morning or late at night. In the summer I prefer to finish by 9 a.m. at the very latest.
3. Look the part. I think I’ve gone running in a sports bra twice in my life but both times happened in the summer because nothing else felt good on. I typically wear spandex shorts and a dry-fit/wicking tank top or shirt. Save cotton t-shirts for indoor workouts.
I also recommend wearing a hat and sunscreen. I’m writing this to remind myself to wear a hat and sunscreen.
4. Hydrate it up. My relatives visiting last week commented how much more water than normal they drank while in FL because of the heat. They didn’t do any outdoor running! Heat + running = even more fluids. Not all at once, though! I *try* to plan my routes to have a water fountain at least every 15 minutes. Just a quick sip (not too much to slosh around my stomach) and then I replenish with coconut and/or regular water after. *This is just for shorter runs. For a longer distance I would carry coconut water with me.*
5. Run with the shade. Some of my favorite runs are through neighborhoods and I just follow the shade. If there’s more shade down one street, I turn that way. No set destination or path. Trees and breeze (if you have any) help a lot.
I’ve come a long way since by days of summer cross-country practice at 4 p.m. on paths with no shade or breeze. I think if I can handle that, anything I do “correctly” now will make my runs that much better.