One of my shortcomings has got to be running in the heat. My performance is poor and sometimes I can’t even finish the run, but then again the heat makes me a stronger runner.
As temperatures climb to the 90-100 degrees and humidity reaches 50-70%, I feel like I’m lifting sandbags on my shoulders. I know it’s hot when I hear cicadas singing loud a long my path. My mouth is dry and all I can think about is “water”. As I see a blaze of heat down the trail, I brush the sweat over my head and I can feel a glob of salt in my hands. The sun is beating me down like I’m in a boxing match. I made plenty of mistakes tackling this. Although I continue to find ways to improve, here are a few things I learned training in the dog days of summer:
Hydrate. I drink a liter of water an hour before running. You’ll be amazed how much water you lose in the heat. Some runners can lose 1-4 quarts of water every hour. I also wear a Camelbak so I can hydrate on my run. It’s hard to find water fountains where I run, so a Camelbak was a great purchase.
Schedule your run. My number 1 mistake is running at the wrong time. Avoid running at times between 10 am-6 pm. I hardly see any runners on the trail during those times. My running experience described above was during noon or 5 pm. Big mistake! Try to run early in the morning or night if you can. I also schedule my runs by reviewing the weather forecast for the week. If the temperatures are lower on certain days that’s the day that I’ll run. In fact, I take advantage of days when it rains. Running in the rain feels so good from the heat. Also, I get a major adrenaline rush when it storms.
Plan your route. Try to find a route with more shade. It makes a huge difference. Some days I wish I had that red umbrella from the Traveler’s insurance commercial follow me around.
Don’t over exert yourself. I generally slow down 2-3 minutes when I’m running in the heat. My heart rate is off the charts when I’m in the heat, so I take my time and save my energy to finish the run. Most of the time I have to stop and walk, but I start running again when I see an overcast. It bothers me at times when I can’t finish what I hope to do, but I remind myself that this will only make me stronger. Come fall, I will probably be able to push more miles out in cooler weather.
Gear. Wear light, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing. Avoid black. Always wear a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Never forget sun block. I always forget this and I come home looking like a lobster. I don’t typically wear a hat because it can trap heat and cause your body temperature to rise. I wear a thick headband, but there are running caps you can buy in any sports store. Take your cell phone in case of an emergency. I have my iphone with me so I can listen to motivating jams or audio books. You can even learn another language while you’re running. I’m going to start that next time. It keeps my mind off the heat.
What to eat. This section deserves it’s on blog post, because I have a lot of say about this. Stay tuned!
I can tell you most of the time I find it difficult to finish in the heat, but there is always tomorrow.