We can’t complain. We spent every cold bitter day of winter dreaming of stepping outside without our nose hairs immediately freezing together with one intake of that bone chilling air.
Summer sun and humidity is here. Better to accept, acclimate, and move through the soup of summer and use it as a measure of determination and dedication to our athletic adventures as we do every other element of nature that comes our way. But the goal is not to just sweat and suffer. The goal is to use such conditions to learn better to accept the elements, respect them, adapt your training and pacing to them, and slowly help your body learn to work within them to a better level of fitness despite them.
Yea, that all sounds good and noble. Like a motivational poster – that notion plays well in your mind until the wheels start to fall off half way through your run and you are certain that you’re going to drown in your own pool of sweat before getting home.
We’ve all been there. And every season we have to go through it again. The ‘oh yes, humidity drains the life out of me’ period of getting your body and mind to adapt and endure the heat and humidity. I know. I was in that very place this morning. With a 10 mile run on tap and 97% humidity showing on weather.com, I knew the potential for ugly was high. And my run, and all its glory and moments otherwise, helped me hone in the following list of hot and humid tips to help get you through the next few weeks, okay months, of summer suffering.
Coach T’s Strategies for Surviving the Sweet Sweat of Summer!
1. Talk to yourself before you set out on your training run. Tell yourself its going to be hot so you are checking your expectations at the door. When its 90 degrees or 90% humidity – you should not expect to – or even try to – run the same pace you run when its 60 degrees out. Reminding yourself of that before you even start the run will help set the tone for a more balanced pacing effort.
2. Set your Garmin to show distance or time only. Not pace. Let that go. It will help take the pressure off. (see #14 for further benefit to this).
3. If you are running solo and wearing music. ONE EAR IN ONE EAR OUT! You can still hear the music but you can also hear the bike trying to pass with notice on your left. Okay this is a general rule of thumb but we know its one I feel can’t be said enough. Back to the list…
4. If you are running solo and wearing music as noted above. Set your playlist to be a bit more mellow. Leave the Rocky theme out and instead put music in that will help you stay relaxed during the run, not tempted to run fast and hard. Not productive – especially in the early miles. Rocky can come in for the last stretch because by then well sure. You’ll need it! But music does often dictate pace and if you go out too fast. You will crash and burn. And that is not a fun trip home.
5. Breathe. I spent most of my run this morning focusing on just breathing and staying relaxed. If you fight the elements, they will fight you back. By just staying focused on being calm, pacing steady and light, keeping my shoulders relaxed and my breathing in good tempo, I was able to set a steady cadence and ran relaxed and therefore well paced throughout.
6. The guy who posted out the noble article saying you don’t need to drink during an hour run. I want to meet him. I want him to run with me for an hour at 7am in June when it is 75 degrees and 97% humidity. And I want to see how he feels after. Anyone help me here? I’m serious! Oh wait, I digress yet again…
7. Carry hydration. And drink it! Water is great but adding in a blend of gatorade or Nuun tabs is better. There are some great new hydration supplements out there that also address getting good electrolyte/salt intake in part to your hydration (Orso, Skratch, Infinite) Key is to TRY THEM! Like anything. What works for you is different than what works for me. But I can say that we all sweat and just water won’t replace the needed elements you are losing with every bead rolling down and burning your eyes. And drinking it when you need it, not when you happen to find that water fountain you pray works. Priceless.
8. EAT. When its hot, many times people are not as hungry and don’t want to eat before or during a run. And yes, because we all hate warm gus too. But if you don’t eat, you will get light headed. Just like you will if you don’t hydrate! Work your breakfast routine as you do in the winter (and if you don’t eat… START!). Avoid dairies and fruits that are overly acidic if you have a sensitive stomach. Simple carbs with a touch of protein before (bagel/peanut butter, half a pbj, waffle, etc) and try the chews rather than gus on the run. They tend to not get quite as ‘hot’ and do the trick of keeping your calorie balance in check. Warm food is better than falling face first on warm pavement. Simple and true.
9. Enduralytes. In addition to the blended hydration, I have come to love and adore Enduralytes as my key to summer salvation. They are pills that you take during your run (2 to 3 tablets per hour) and they serve up an added blend of electrolytes and salt to keep your body stable as your sneakers slosh in sweat. I call them my happy pills. They work for me. There are other brands (Salt Stick for one) but for me Enduralytes are not too sodium heavy and just work. I take 2 before a run such as today and then took 3 at the 4.5 mile mark of my run and 2 more at the 8 mile mark to get me home.
10. For the love of that lost sock. You have 3 different socks in your drawer right now I am certain. The dryer ate the mate and yet you are still hoping beyond hope for its sudden magical return. Fear not. In addition to using said random sock as protection for your smart phone on long rides in your bento box, this same sock can also serve as a handy sweat wipe on runs. Yes! Tuck it in the nip of your shorts or just carry it in your hand. It will be a godsend when the sweat overtakes your brow and burns into your eyes despite the visor you wore (or because of it). It works! Your shirt will be too sweaty to be of service I can guarantee so having this on hand will give your sock a whole new purpose once again!
11. Cough drops. (Hall Honey Lemon being this fan’s favorite if that matters). I talk of these in the winter to help fight off the frozen nose hairs. In the summer they just keep your mouth hydrated as you run and fend off that pasty dehydrated over gatorade flavored feeling you can get. Halls… yes. You need to sponsor me.
12. BODY GLIDE. SUNSCREEN. VISOR. Yes, all three. Protect your body, skin, and eyes now so they hold strong for the long haul.
13. A well earned reward. Plan it before you walk out that door. Have it as a beacon to get you started and finished. Mine was a treat from the pastry counter at Starbucks. But, note to self. After a hot humid sweaty run, standing in a long line may not be the best next step. I had to dismiss myself before getting said treat as I was creating a safety hazard from the pool of sweat dripping to the floor.
14. Last but not least. Now. Take that Garmin. Plug in the data. See how your pacing compared to those 60 degree days. See the difference. Accept it. And respect it. Know that whatever that difference is, it is what it is. 15 seconds to 30 seconds per mile slower? A whole minute per mile slower? Sure. That is about right. Own it and allow it. By doing so, you’ll be all the more able to steadily work the element and strengthen yourself through it. So much more positive and productive to the cause! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Remember this and these long days of summer training will be a brighter spot in the season of success than you think!
15. Oh… wait! I didn’t mention what not to wear! Cotton. Enough said. Capris. Its summer. Your knees need sun. Thick socks. If you need cushion, look to socks like Balega’s super light sock that offers cushion and yet breathing material to help your feet wick out a bit of that sweat. Hats. Be careful here. If its really hot or humid, hats can over heat your system. Try a visor instead. Quite simply, don’t wear too much. Keep it light, wicking material, short, comfortable. But okay lets just say for us all. Respectful. You get the point.
NOW. You are officially ready to sweat into the season. Run smart, savor the sunshine, and sweat out the rest.
Rev it up and rally on!
SHOP FOR HOT STUFF HERE:
Local reference to some items I posted and where to find them – aka support small business – they need us as much as we need them!
Hydration: Potomac River Running Stores (PRR) have a great stock of hydration systems (Nathan, Amphipod, Fuel Belt) and supplements. Cycle shops such as Revolution Cycles, carry a range of alternate types of hydration supplements as well. You can often find small sample packs to help you test out what you like.
Nutrition/Supplements: PRR carries the Hammer Enduralytes and a huge array of nutritionals for you to test and love. So too does Revolution Cycles and other such bike and sport specialty stores.
Visor: I believe in the Headsweat Visor for comfort and protection so much, I offer them myself! Get yours while they last – and motivate those running behind you at the same time. How cool is that!?
Google – or click these links for more information on the fun assortment hydration and salt supplements mentioned above – like Osmo, Skratch, Enduralytes, Nuun – to see what they are and what they have to offer!