Beat the Heat
Running in Texas in the summer is no joke. The heat is horrible and the humidity is even worse. Most days after my run I’m soaking wet from head to toe as if I just jumped into a swimming pool. Since not running is not an option, and who wants to spend the whole summer on the treadmill, what can I do to beat the heat?
When the average temperature is 100 degrees with a heat index that makes it feel like 106 degrees how in the world do I train for my Fall races? The answer is you must run early, which in Texas means before 7am. Running early is my normal routine just because I’m a morning person, single mom with an active teenage boy, teacher and coach, so if I don’t get my fitness routine in before my house wakes up and before the day takes over, it will not get done. Also, running in the morning helps me to mentally prepare for the day, (did I mention I teach high school).
But if you're trying to beat the heat, the temperature is lowest in the morning and the sun is at its weakest point. You may still encounter some humidity but that’s better than baking while running.
OMG forget pace, now for most runners this is not going to happen. We are so in tune with our current and desired pace that forgetting it is not an option. Most of the time I can’t even run if all my devices aren’t properly functioning.
When trying to stay cool while running the best practice is to run by effort and intuition, not by the number on your GPS watch. I’ve recently started to run without my TomTom watch not just because of the heat but because I need to focus on time on the pavement and not pace, and to my surprise I actually had a slightly better pace by listening to my body and not looking at my watch.
Since we are forgetting about pace to stay cool, try focusing on time rather than distance. I’ve noticed that most training programs on the Nike app and the Pear app are set up by time and not mileage so this should be an easy accomplishment.
Staying hydrated is easier said than done in my opinion. Your body will tell you if you are hydrated or dehydrated. The first sign is the color of your urine, if you are properly hydrated your urine will be light in appearance, if your urine is dark in color when you wake up for your morning run then make sure and take some type of hydration on the run, especially if you are doing a long run. But in this Texas heat every run feels like a long run. Additional signs include feeling thirsty, cramps, headaches and fatigue, these signs are mostly noticeable during your run or after a run.
Drinking water is on the top of my list but not everyone can drink 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men which is the recommendation of the US Department of Agriculture. So if you are not a fan of water there is another option to help with hydration, instead of drinking you can eat.
There are several fruits and vegetables that have a high water content which will help you stay hydrated such as watermelon, strawberries, peaches, grapefruit, cantaloupe, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, soups and broths, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, bell pepper, cauliflower and cabbage.
In addition to water, fruits and vegetables don’t forget to add some type of electrolytes, hydration water such as Hoist or hydration tablets, such as Nuunor Spark (Advocare). Another great rehydration beverage is coconut water but for me it must be well chilled.
Alright, there you have it, a few tips to help you stay cool on the pavement. So set that alarm clock for 5am, properly hydrate yourself, leave your watch at home, lace up and hit the pavement. You got this….