Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Running in the summer

This picture has little to do with this post, aside from the fact that I'm sweaty from running. I was laying on the floor blasting the fan and AC trying to cool down, and it was game on for Sophie. She's licking the sweat off my face. Cats are weird.

So we're about halfway through the summer? Kind of? Lets say yes. I haven't quit running (!!!), which is something I was very scared would happen. However, let me say this has been the mildest summer I've experienced in a long time. I can't remember a summer like this. We haven't hit 100 degrees yet, which is amazing as we are mid July here. We've also had a fair amount of rain (never enough) to keep it relatively cool. It rained last night, and when I ran this morning at 9:30 it was only like 78. Although the humidity was a whole different beast. So it's been a mild summer so far. But still, it's Texas and it's hot. But I've kept up the running.

This is my first summer as a "runner", so I've got nothing to base any of this on. I am also not competitive or hardcore or any sort of expert. I just run because I like seeing myself improve and, well, I love running. But this is what I've learned so far during my first summer of running:

WATER. Dear lord, drink you some water. All day every day. Before running, after running, while running. Take water with you. Brendon and I have a big water bottle that we run with, and he carries it because I'm a huge wiener and can't run with it. So when I run alone I run waterless, and boy does it suck. We've also just about run out of water on our "longer" runs. I've been talking about buying one of the little handheld water bottles, but I've yet to do it. I need to. Water is so so so important, especially in the heat.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you feel like you're going to puke and pass out at the same time, stop running. Get into some shade, drink some water, and cool down. Overheating and dehydration are not playing around. Twice this summer I've come close to losing my cool, literally, and it was very scary. Both times I thought I was going to puke, then my brain was going to explode. Not cool. If you feel ill, stop. If you're dizzy, stop. If you're seeing spots, goodness STOP! Listen to your body!!

SLOW DOWN. You're going to be slower in the heat no matter what, it just comes with the territory. I run about a minute slower now than I did in the spring. And that's okay. But it also helps if I make a conscious effort to run a little slower, especially if I'm trying to run a longer distance. If I'm just running a 5k I'll push myself a little harder because I know I've only got a few miles to do. But if I want to run farther, or run hills, I make sure I stay at comfortable pace. I focus on my breathing and slow down when I feel it's getting out of control (this works well for me in any temperature).

And on that note, IGNORE YOUR MILE TIMES. This is a personal thing for me. At first my slow pace was discouraging, but right now I just focus on getting out there and running. Getting in your run in no matter how slow. We have this Garmin watch that tells you your current speed, and I completely ignore it. It also makes this lovely beep when you wrap up a mile and gives you the mile time, and I also try to ignore that. I focus on, "YES, ANOTHER MILE DOWN", not "oh my god that was almost an 11 minute mile". You're out there doing the damn thing, sweating your ass off. Give yourself credit.

HIDE FROM THE SUN. Seriously. My dad is one of those crazy folks who loves running in the heat of the day because it's a better work out. I did not inherit that gene. I am a vampire, the sun sucks the life out of me. It makes everything more difficult. Run in the mornings or evenings, when the sun isn't high. I am not a morning runner because I'm usually at work by 5:30am and if I'm not, I want to sleep in! So we run in the evenings at like 7 or 8. It's hotter than in the morning, but the sun isn't shining directly on you and man that makes a world of difference. The downside is the mornings and evenings are a bit more humid, but I'll take humidity over the sun any day.

WEAR AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Seriously. If it's real hot, I'm running in shorts and a sports bra, that's it. Your shorts come with built in undies? Use 'em. Layers are not your friend. Also, swamp ass. No one wants it. On days I do run in a shirt, it's moisture wicking and relatively loose fitting. No cotton. You will sweat all over it and it will get heavy and hot and gross. Also SUNSCREEN! I am not good at this, thus, I have a very prominent runners "tan". By tan I mean freckles.

KEEP POSITIVE AND KEEP RUNNING. The big one, y'all. The heat and humidity are humbling and can be incredibly disheartening. It takes time to acclimate, and during that time you feel like you've never run in your life. I've had runs this summer when I've thought "I wasn't cut out for this, I'm not a runner, I suck I suck I suck, why am I doing this???". But you keep running. And I'm not saying it's easy to run in the heat, but it does get easier. Just keep trucking through. You might not be able to run as fast or as far, but it's a hell of a workout. And although this is my first summer as a runner and this will be my first fall as well, when that first cold snap hits, I'm thinking I'll be feeling pretty damn good. Stronger and faster. And that's what I tell myself when I'm a hot sweaty zombie mess and I feel like if I take another step I'll melt into the pavement and/or burst into flames.

So that's the plan. I can survive a couple more months of this and I WILL be a better runner because of it. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger! (But running in the heat can kill you, so BE CAREFUL! Pace yourself! Water water water!)

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