They say if you wait for the perfect conditions you’ll never run. I’ve run in the rain, the wind, the cold, but it’s the high heat and humidity that really kicks my butt! I try to plan my run for early morning on days when the humidity is high. That seems to be when I have the most energy anyway. Evenings are okay too, just as the sun is going down but normally I’ve had dinner by that time and after working all day sometimes my energy is zapped by then. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time in the morning before work to run, so during the week I run after work. That afternoon sun can get pretty hot and steamy on the bike paths where there is little to no shade. Those are the times that I really have to do battle with myself to keep going.
At the start of my run my muscles all feel tight and tense as if I’ve just pulled them out of bed to force them into heavy labor. My heart and lungs start heaving and pounding like an old steam engine and I immediately start thinking about shortening my distance that day. By the half mile mark my brain is sounding the alarm, “System failure! Abort mission!” My legs are complaining like lazy teenagers when you ask them to do some work around the house and my feet are thanking me sarcastically for wearing those high heels to work earlier that day.
Usually by the time I hit the one mile mark my breathing has normalized and my brain has turned off the system alarms. My legs and feet have hit their pace and I fall into a comfortable zone where my mind and body finally accept this torture I’m subjecting them to. I start taking in the beautiful sights around me and focus less on my own possible demise.
There are a few things I’ve found that really help me on those hot, humid days if I can’t get out there early enough to beat the heat.
Stay as cool as possible. Try to find a place to run where you can get off of the hot pavement and find a little shade here and there along your way; maybe a local park or hiking trail. After soaking up the sun all day the pavement can be extremely hot and just adds to the misery on a humid afternoon.
Dress for comfort. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Any fabric that wicks moisture away from your skin is helpful too. I tuck a wash cloth in my flip belt or the waistband of my shorts so if sweat starts running down my face I can grab that cloth and wipe it before the sweat starts burning my eyes.
Wear a good pair of sunglasses that have grips on the bridge and behind the ears to keep them from sliding down and polarized lenses seem to help with glare, especially if you run near water.
Keep it short. Unless you’re training for a marathon there’s no need to run more than a few miles in the extreme heat. Save your longer run for a day when you can go early in the morning to beat the heat.
Don’t forget sunscreen. I use one that is water and sweat resistant.
Stay hydrated. I always carry a small bottle of water with me when I run but it’s especially important on those sunny, humid days. A small bottle is easier to hang on to and even if you’re only going to run a few miles it’s important to keep hydrated along the way. If you don’t like carrying anything in your hands there are other options, like running belts or hydration packs and even small bottles that strap to your wrists. I try to drink plenty of water throughout the day so I’m well hydrated before I head out to run.
If you drive somewhere to go for your run, pack a cooler with ice, a few bottles of cold water and a cooling towel for after your run. When you pull that cold, damp towel out and drape it around your neck it will feel like heaven and it will help you cool down quicker.