When I ran cross country in high school I loathed the heat. Summer practices were brutal enough getting back into shape after taking a month off from track season let alone doing it in 90 degree temps with added humidity. Many times the heat would physic my stomach worse than Taco Bell could.
Winter on the other hand was wonderful. I would bundle up in my long sleeved t and hoodie along with gloves and thermal headband and head out with my equally crazy teammates to run in the cold, wind and sometimes snow. Only when temps dropped below 20* or extreme wind chills occurred did we accept defeat and take to running the high school hallways.
Now that I’m older I have found the reverse to be true. I’ve always heard the cold affects your bones as you age. At 28 years old I don’t consider myself to be old, but I certainly mind the cold a lot more than I ever used to. I could blame it on indoor track in college spoiling me. I usually blame it on circulation issues in my toes that developed seemingly out of nowhere. My it’s-not-injured-but-it-randomly-hurts knee also seems to not like it when the temperature goes below 40*. For those reasons I tend to stick to the treadmill and workout DVDs throughout the winter and count down the days until I can be out enjoying warmer running weather.
Fortunately while my tolerance for the cold has diminished my ability to withstand the heat has improved. I no longer develop a sick stomach during hot and humid runs nor do I find the workouts to be all that much harder. Maybe I’ve just gotten smarter over the years and have come to realize how key proper hydration is and now prep accordingly. Maybe my core body temperature has become naturally lower and it takes greater extremes in heat to affect me. In any case it makes training for summer 5ks a lot better for me.
For those who are looking to get out and about running this summer and may not be as adjusted to the heat as I have become I offer the following tips.
- Run as early or as late in the day as possible. 10am until 2pm is the hottest part of the day.
- Dress appropriately – I personally have no problem going out in shorts and a sports bra on the hottest days, but if you’re not keen on that then make sure to choose clothing that is light colored and made of sweat wicking fabric. Cotton tshirts are not your friend and will hold sweat and weigh you down.
- Choose wooded or shaded areas as much as possible. Look for a local trail or park. Asphalt and concrete retain heat and your feet will heat up a lot faster running on those than a grass/stone/etc path.
- Hydrate. Before you run make sure your urine is at least a light yellow to indicate you’re hydrated. If you’re going to run for a long period of time or will be out in direct sunlight make sure to take water with you. It goes without saying but make sure to replenish once you finish.
- Run smart. If you just don’t feel right, you stop sweating, or your skin temperature feels like lukewarm ice tea definitely stop running and walk. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. No workout is worth endangering yourself.