Getting ready for my long run this past Saturday morning, I thought to myself, I am so tired of this heat. I gasped and couldn’t believe the words had even crossed my mind, knowing it was way too early in the summer to even be thinking about it. For me, summer running in Texas is only possible if there’s a forced denial of how things really are. Acknowledging there’s a problem is the first step towards insanity.
It doesn’t matter how early or late in the day you run, there’s no escaping the heat this summer. The ten day forecast has barely changed since early June, with day after never ending day of triple digit temperatures. I was doing okay until last week, when we started a six mile group run at 7pm and the temperature was still 99 degrees. The image of a cold beer waiting for me afterwards was the only thing that pulled me through.
For me, it’s never too cold to run. Even though the ideal temperature for optimal running is supposedly 55 degrees, I prefer it even colder, say the mid-40’s. You can dress to stay warm, but even nude running won’t keep you cool when the temperature’s in the upper 90’s. The only saving grace is that the heat has kept the humidity down to somewhat tolerable levels. And that wind that I like to complain about in the winter? Nonexistent–which is not necessarily a good thing when it’s this hot.
At least we’re all in this together, and there’s no shortage of other runners to wallow with in misery. If I had to run alone, I truly don’t think I would be able to run through the heat. Even my dogs can’t make it past 3 or 4 miles this summer, and that’s sobering.
Here are my strategies for running in high heat:
- Run with someone. Not only is it safer, but good conversation helps take your mind off the heat.
- Stop often for water. Carry your own water if there’s none on your route. I make a point to stop every mile for a few sips when it’s hot.
- Walk when you need to. This is not the time to beat yourself up for having to walk during a run.
- Run in the early morning or early evening hours, when the sun is below the horizon. The morning hours are slightly cooler but more humid, and the evening hours are drier but much warmer. Personal choice as to which you prefer. I trade off and do both.
- Slow down. Pace is not important when it’s hot. I naturally run 30 to 40 seconds slower in the summer than the rest of the year.
- Wear a hat and/or sunglasses if you run when the sun is up. Don’t forget sunscreen.
- Just tell yourself it is what it is and embrace the heat. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway.
For me, the last one is the most important. The only way I’m going to make it through this summer is to not dwell too long on how miserable I am when I’m running. I can’t change it, there’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well accept it and move on. Either I slow down, laugh it off and keep running, or I curl up in a fetal position in the corner of my bedroom and feel sorry for myself for the next three months.
Sanity still intact (at least for today), I’ll keep running. Thank God for cold beer, frozen margaritas, and good running friends to get me through this summer.