Suddenly, this past week, Virginia decided it was July. Nevermind that it was really May, it was 90* with matching humidity.
This is what I looked like when I got done running on Tuesday:
Yes, that is sweat dripping from my elbows. Thanks for asking.
Remember how cold it was for most of us this winter? The winter of single digits and crazy wind chills? The winter that thought it would stick around until August? Yeah, well that winter is over and I bet your body hasn’t quite caught up.
Mine certainly hasn’t. So, I’ve been working really hard to acclimate to hot. After all, I have three more half marathons left this “spring” and it would be a safe bet to assume that at least one of them will be super hot and humid. In fact, both ZOOMA and Alexandria have been crazy hot a few times in the past. So, I’ve been heading out in the hottest, sunniest part of the day to force my body to acclimate as quickly as possible. Mother Nature has been helping me out by providing the crazy hot days. Thanks, Mother Nature, but I have enough of my own hot flashes. I don’t need yours.
Anyways, here are some things to keep in mind as the summer heat kicks in. If you run smartly and train correctly, your body will adapt and you will be able to make it through. (I hate being hot and yet I survive running in it every year.)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on tv. I just run a lot in Virginia where it is stupid hot and humid in the summer.
1. Dress appropriately – Wear a hat or visor to protect your skin, sunglasses if sun is accompanying the heat, and comfortable, lightweight, wicking clothing. And for the love all that’s holy, wear.sunblock!!! If where you live is anywhere near as humid as where I live, you’ll want to wear as little as possible or you’ll be carrying an extra 5 pounds of weight in soggy clothing by the end. Trust me on that. If you don’t want to share your lily white belly (I won’t judge either way, it’s your choice), tank tops are your best friend in the summer. Particularly tank tops with obnoxious sayings.
2. Hydrate properly – Before. During. After. I try to drink at least a glass or two of water before I run and if it’s over 80 degrees, I take a handheld. Seriously, I ran 3 miles on Tuesday and carried the Ultimate Direction handheld I was sent as part of my ZOOMA ambassadorship (review soon). And, yes, it was nearly empty when I finished. My personal preference is to have something with electrolytes because I sweat out a lot of salt. But that’s a personal choice and you know your body better than I do. Continue hydrating afterwards. Nuun and Ultima are my favorites in the summer for short runs.
3. Pay attention to the weather and plan accordingly – Pollen count high? Make sure that won’t affect your breathing. Humidity nearly as bad as the heat? Check the radar for storms. Heat index really high? If you must run, make sure you are where you have access to shade or someplace you can cool down if you overheat. Code orange or red for air quality? Perhaps this isn’t the best time to run outside.
4. Slow the heck down – No. Really. Stop watching your pace on your Garmin. (I know you are looking.) I don’t care if your speed is reminiscent of a granny with a walker. Hot weather, especially when combined with humidity, is going to make your body work harder at the same pace. While you are adapting to the heat, give your body a break and slow down. Walk if you need to. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you are out of shape or any of the other nasty things you are saying about yourself in your head (I’m not the only one, right?) It’s the heat. Not you.
5. Listen to your body – This is probably the most important thing you can do to adapt to the heat. Respect that the heat is challenging to your body. If you are hydrating and running slowly, you should be ok, but if you feel dizzy or get chills, stop running and find someplace cooler ASAP! Overheating and/or dehydrating are no joke. For this reason, I try to run all of my early summer runs near my house or through urban areas. I don’t want to be walking miles to get back home.
Don’t forget to enter my Altra Running Shoe giveaway!!