The Joys of Summer Running

It became blistering obvious that summer was here and with a vengeance this week.  90 degree days with 100 degree heat indexes, it is HOT outside.  I know, I know…it has been hot all month…but for some reason this week hit me hard.

Let’s back up a little.  In previous training bouts, I have avoided running outside at this time of the year.  Literally, I just didn’t run, made up some excuse for not feeling well or being too tired to get up early enough.  I told myself this training round that I would stick to it because 26.2 miles will be a lot easier in the fall if I put in the work now.  Which means…summer running.

It’s quite a dramatic change from May and June.  It was rather cool those months, humid yes, but the temperatures were ok.  But the minute July hit, so did the hot temperatures.  But it’s been a good month of learning…

1.)  Early mornings are your best bet.  Yes…I know, not everyone can run early.  It’s a luxury I have for working the evening shift.  But if you can manage it, I suggest this is when you go out.  It’s still relatively cool and the sun is not quite up to its full height yet.  I started the month waking up at 8 am, shifted to 7 am, and by Friday, I bit the bullet and woke up at 6:30 am.  This is quite the task considering I get off work at 11:00 pm and often don’t go to sleep until 1:00 am.  But it was a lot cooler than it was when I finished at 8 am.

2.) Water is your friend…ALL DAY!  Yes you need to hydrate during the run and after you finish.  But at this time of the year you lose so much more water through sweat that you need to continuously hydrate throughout the day.  The general rule is 8 8 ounce glasses of water.  However, I’ve found a formula that gets me way more water and I generally feel better; and it’s easy for anyone!  Take your weight, divide that in half, and drink that many ounces of water.  For example, a 100 lb person would drink 50 ounces of water.

If you’re out for more than an hour, you may also need an electrolyte replacement beverage as well.  I usually go for Gatorade because that’s what they have at races.  My general rule is that once I get done running, I have to drink a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade before taking a shower (it’s usually not too hard to do)!

3.) Know your limits.  Running in the hot weather causes your internal body temperature to soar.  Your body is working overtime to keep you cool, inside and out.  It’s working to sweat so your outside is cool, and its working to keep your organs at an even temperature.  The hotter weather places more strain on these processes.  As a result, you may tire quicker or find yourself slowing down.  This is your body telling you that it needs time to catch up.  Embrace the slower pace; if you don’t you could end up with heat stroke or an injury.

This one I struggle with.  I want to get faster as I train, but its hard to do that in the summer.  I had a hard lesson this week that some days will be better than others.  Monday was a good running day, and Wednesday was amazing.  However, the heat and humidity took its toll Friday and my run suffered.  I kept trying to push it Friday, and finally had to back down on the pace because I was headed for another calf injury.  That would have kept me from running for about a week while I healed, but instead I had a subpar run but I can go back out Monday.

Three important lessons learned from summer running.  I’ll grin and bear it because I know this work will pay off in the fall.  Plus, I’ve always heard that you run faster in the cooler weather after training in the warmer weather.  We’ll see if it’s true; but I do know that this training will not be wasted at my goal race!

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