Summer runnin’, had me a blast
Summer runnin’, happened so fast
Oh wait, those aren’t the lyrics… I apologize for my random Grease moment….
It’s no surprise to anyone that knows me that I hate summers in Florida. I hate the heat and the humidity. Actually I hate the humidity more than the heat, but it’s all relative, I guess. On the other end of the spectrum, we also have to deal with afternoon thunderstorms which, ironically, are caused by the instability the hot air and sunshine causes.
Running in the heat is much different than running in the cooler weather. My very first half marathon, the Rock N’ Roll in St Petersburg, was so cold and windy, with wind chill in the 30’s. Not normal for Florida. Being the newbie-half marathoner that I was, I wore all cotton, in layers. I am almost embarrassed to admit that. I ended up peeling off layers and tying my jacket around my waist. Cold or not, you still sweat, and it wasn’t comfortable with the cotton layers. Lesson learned. I also wore gloves and kept them on because my hands were freezing the whole time. Right now, that cold sounds pretty wonderful.
Since then I’ve run in different temperatures and I know that I run better and more efficiently in the cooler, less humid weather. I feel lighter and my breathing is not labored.
To accommodate the heat, I run in the morning, just before 6am most of the week. On the weekend, it may be a little later, but no later than 8:30. Two hours can make a huge difference here in Florida.
The hardest part of running in the summer is the wall of humidity that is here from late May through the end of September. You could cut it with a knife. Even in the morning, I start sweating the second I walk out the door and by the time I get home, I am soaked and could wring out my clothes. All of this means being smart every time I head out that door for a run.
Here are my tips for running in the heat:
- Wear as little as possible. A couple months ago, I decided I was brave enough to wear long compression-style shorts when running as my running capris were too hot even though they were dri-fit. As much as I want to, I cannot wear the cute little running shorts – they do not work for my body shape. I also wear a dri-fit tank top.
- Keep your hair off your face. This applies to all year long, but especially in the summer. There is nothing worse than hair sticking to your face as you’re running along and dripping with sweat. I happen to love BAMR Bands. It holds my hair back, including my bangs, and doesn’t move or come off while I’m running (or doing hot yoga). I have the black and white chevron one which I love. Chevron anything is awesome. And don’t even get me started on the fall designs she has out now. I want them ALL.
- Hydrate!!! When I run a couple miles in the morning, I generally don’t take water with me. But I do drink water before I head out and when I get home. On my longer runs, I take water with me. I have a handheld water bottle which also has a pocket for my keys and phone, or I’ll just use the water bottle. I am not a fan of sports drinks, mostly because of the after taste, so I don’t usually drink those. I do, however, buy Smart Water from time to time for the electrolytes.
- Run before the sun comes up. I never used to run in the morning. I hated it. But the last three years of my life have been taken over by two Australian Shepherds who are up at the crack of dawn so I may as well get out there and take advantage of the pre-sunrise run. Besides, what better way to start the day than running as the sun comes up. It’s the perfect time to think about how to tackle the day.
- Fuel. I know everyone is different when it comes to what they eat and when they eat for a run. Before? After? Light? Heavy? For my short runs, I typically do not eat first. I kind of prefer running on an empty stomach. After I’m done, I eat a banana with peanut butter. It is my favorite post-run snack. Before a half marathon, I have the banana and a whole wheat English muffin before the race. Listen to your body and know what works best for you.
- Lower your expectations. As my pace has become much more consistent in the last couple of months, I pay much more attention to every second on my Garmin when I’m done. In my world, finishing a matter of seconds faster than the time before is cause for victory. In this heat and humidity, I know I’m going to run a little slower and I’ll have to fight for it a little more. Running through that wall of humidity takes more energy and even after just a couple of miles, I am done. To all those amazing runner that I look up to who are currently training for upcoming marathons and do your long runs in this weather, you are all rock stars!
- Don’t be stupid. This is probably the most important. If you think it’s too hot to run in, it probably is. If you have to take walk breaks, then walk. It’s better to be safe and put it off than to run and pass out.
- Avoid lightning. As refreshing as it may be to run in the rain, don’t do it if there is lighting. Here in the Sunshine State, an afternoon storm more than likely is accompanied by lightning and thunder. This is the lightning capital of the world, after all. Even without rain, there can be lightning. I just started using the WeatherBug app and the Spark feature on it is pretty cool. It tells you how close lightning is to your location.
You can run in the summer, you just need to make adjustments to your routine!
How does the heat affect your running? How do you adapt to it? Share!