Monday, July 24, 2017

Tips for Running in the Heat + Humidity

Living in the Midwest, we get the best of both sets of horrific weather: the crazy winter weather with snow/ice/sleet and crazy below zero temperatures as well as sweltering heat and humidity. I would much prefer the insane cold than the sweltering heat, but in order for me to be in great shape for a cool fall/early winter race, I have to run through the insane heat of the summer. Sigh.

In the past, I've bitched and complained my way through summer training. Tons of walk breaks, skipped runs during the unfavorable temps, etc. etc. This year I'm embracing the summer heat, using the heat miles as mental training for hard races to go. I also think that running throughout the summer heat will make my heart even more chill and relaxed when it comes to cooler race mornings in the fall.

With that being said, it's still not easy to run through the summer heat and humidity, far from it. And after having tons and tons of runs ending with me waving the white flag, walking home, sitting on the side of the trail/sidewalk pouting, wishing for a meteor to strike me, here are some tips I have for making summer running not suck quite so much:

  • Drink + carry all of the water. Now this should be obvious, but it never fails, I head out for that first blazing hot run of the spring/summer, and I don't bring my handheld because I'm only going 3 or 4 miles, and who needs water for a 3 or 4 miler? Well I do. Especially when it's 85-100 degrees. Even if I'm not running and I'm just looking out the window in that level of heat, I need to be hydrating! I also spend the day before long runs and workouts super hydrating. I've started tracking my hydration again, and I make damn sure on those days before that I'm hitting my goal and then some. I end up spending ALL DAY LONG in the bathroom, but whatever, it's necessary.

  • Plan your route to refill water. Oh, another tip that involves water? Why not. YES it's that important. On a recent 10 mile long run, I drank 30 oz of water. I carry a 12 oz handheld water bottle, and filled it up once during the run, chugged half of it, and then filled it up the rest of the way. My run was 100% better after that point. None of this sip occasionally stuff. When it's hot, you need to stay ahead of the hydration, so drink frequently and refill often.
  • Wear the lightest loose fitting clothing. My hot, HOT wardrobe is almost always the same: white hat, black shorts (to hide the significant ass/crotch sweat that will inevitably be there), and the lightest weight, lightest color tank that is clean for the day. I bought a purple tank from Nike a few years back, and it reminds me of the t-shirt that Kyle has had since he was a sophomore in high school. So worn down that it's threadbare and see through. Well that's how this tank top is, and it basically feels like you're not wearing a shirt, and that right there is pure bliss on a hot hot day. Or just shed the damn shirt (but plan to load up the sunscreen first, because there are parts of you that probably aren't used to being on display in the blazing sun for the run).
  • Adjust your pace/goal. When I'm training, I don't have a goal per say for the pace we're shooting for on a long run day. My goal is to complete the miles with little to no walk breaks. I know a lot of people train with planned walk breaks and that works perfect for them, but for me, if I walk during my training runs, it gives my brain permission to walk in races when it gets hard. I always try to start hot long runs even more conservatively than normal, ignoring pace almost completely, only focusing on perceived effort via heart rate. I know that once my heart rate gets to a certain point, the only thing I can do is walk to get it to come down, so I'd much rather take it very easy so I can complete my goal of getting in the miles with little to no breaks in the running (water refill exceptions excluded).
  • Wake up early. Barf. I know this is an unpopular one, at least for me. I hate getting up early to run. My stomach is always angry, and my legs feel so tired and old in the morning. Ugh, woe is me. BUT if I have a workout (workout=speed work or long run) you'd best believe I'm up as early as I can physically function to get it in. I do still think it's important to do some of your super easy/general aerobic paced runs in the insane heat so that you're not completely blind-sided if your race day is blazing hot (heaven help me if my goal race in Oct. or mid-November is in blazing heat, I will FREAK OUT!!!). It's already stressful on your body to run long or do a tempo run or speed session, so it's best to take out the extra variable of stress that is heat and/or humidity.
What tips am I missing? I used to be an ice-bather after these runs, but I've gotten wussy in my old age. :|

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