This past week we got a little taste of what is to come with the summer heat and the dreaded humidity we battle here in Nashville. It seems like I switch my running wardrobe from running tights and half zip pullovers to tank tops and shorts in a matter of weeks. Around this time every year I hit a slump in my motivation and my pace seems to slow down. The heat zaps the energy right out of me and makes it harder to run. I have never peaked in the heat, it is and always has been one of my biggest challenges.
I have signed up for two races in June. I will be doing the Franklin half marathon on June 7th and the RC Cola and MoonPie 10 Miler in Bell Buckle on June 21st. (MoonPie has the BEST food at the finish line, I am talking chicken biscuits, popsicles, muffins and more….just an FYI) This will at least help me stay on top of my miles through June. I would definitely say that July and August are the two hardest running months of the year. I have already taken precautions and made changes to help with these hot and humid runs. Here are a few tips and things I do to keep hydrated and safe in the summer heat.
1. Plan on needing twice as much water in the summer months that you have been drinking during winter exercise. You will naturally be thirstier and you will be sweating out a tremendous amount of more sweat. I always loop back to my house and leave water out front. If that is not an option for you, then you may have to carry water with you or drop the water ahead of time. It is actually important to stay hydrated all day and even the night before a run, not just during. This will set you up to feel better when it is time to run.
2. I have already bought two new very lightweight, Dri-FIT Nike tanks for the summer and plan to buy at least two more. They are amazing and last forever. (and the longer length is flattering on all body types!) I still wear some that I bought well over 5 years ago. Lightweight, cool clothing is essential. Anything that is not dry fit will get heavy when it gets sweaty and can be very uncomfortable. (Socks included because your sweat will drip down your legs and end up adding moisture to your feet.) A hat on really hot days can actually make you even hotter. If you like a hat for the sun protection, a visor is a better choice. A hat will cause a quicker internal buildup of heat.
3. Be sure you have the right running shoes. I love both my Brooks Glycerin and my Saucony Triumphs but the Glycerin is a little heavier and warmer. I notice that my feet tend to feel hotter and sweatier when I run in them.
4. Prepare to chafe! The increased amount of sweating you will be doing can lead to some surprising pain when your chaffed skin hits the shower! Be sure to use either Vaseline or Body Glide in any and every place you may possibly chafe. You can have on the same shirt you wore just weeks ago in cooler weather but this time you could chafe because of the excessive wetness. (Take this from someone who has chaffed to the point of bleeding because I was not prepared!)
5. Hydrate after!!! After a run in this heat, you will have sweated out a significant amount of fluid and it is imperative that you continue to drink even after you are done with your run.
6. Go early or go late. Try to avoid running in the peak hours of the day!
7. Sign up for some fun races just so you can stay motivated! Although July and August are not popular months for longer races, there are several 5k races during the summer months here.
So although you may be slower in the summer and you may not feel your best, keeping at it and doing what you can is enough! When the heat gets unbearable, there is always a treadmill. Speed intervals on a treadmill can give you a great workout in a short amount of time.
You can bet you will hear more from me on this topic because it is always a frustration of mine. Try not to let the heat deter you from walking or running. I always tell my friends that if you can get through summer running, you can get through anything!