I was practically convinced that my morning runs would be endlessly easier after five days of hiking in the high altitudes of the Colorado mountains. It’s called altitude training, right? Based on everything I’d read, I should have blazed the trails with Scott Jurek’s speed and grace upon my return. As it turned out, that wasn’t the case.
This is what my first week back in New York post-vacation looked like:
Tuesday: rest day (I was on very little sleep and needed to get to the office at the crack of dawn to catch up on missed work)
Wednesday: 4 miles around Gramercy, Union Square and Washington Square Park
Thursday: 5 miles around the lower loop of Central Park
Friday: 5 miles around the lower loop of Central Park
Saturday: 5 miles wandering around Central Park with my cousin, finishing at 79th and 2nd Avenue to pick up fresh fruit and veggies and homemade pasta from Agata and Valentina
Sunday: chase incredibly adorable three-year-old around the sprinklers on my mom’s front lawn
Something almost all of these runs had in common: I felt like my skin was melting off my body from the start to finish of every one. New York City has been horrifyingly hot since my return from the mountains, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be improving any time; this week’s average temperature is somewhere in the 90′s. Woof.
Running in the heat is never an easy feat. Heck, running on a good day is no walk in the park. Besides the fact that I spend the bulk of my summer runs day dreaming of cool September air, physically, the humidity and thickness that surrounds presents a real challenge in terms of breathing. At times, I’d sometimes just rather not.
A few things that help me to 1) motivate and get my butt out the door and 2) push on through the pain:
Set the mood. For some reason, listening to electronic music or rap on hot summer mornings enrages me. I think it has something to do with overstimulation. Between blaring car horns and unyielding heat, I have enough to worry about without Kanye whispering sweet nothings in my ear. On particularly muggy days when I’m looking for a bit of calm, I turn to jazz. Pandora has a pretty decent station that I’ve been getting into.
Plan ahead. I don’t typically like to carry water bottles with me while running, but obviously in this heat, it’s important to hydrate as much as possible. Besides sipping water before heading out the door (for newbies to WRFG, I hate water, so that’s a big step), I also try to plan my route knowing that I’ll pass a water fountain or two along the way. Central Park has a fountain at the 72nd street entrance and again where i exit by the pond on the south-east side of the park. I’ve also been placing iced tea in the fridge so that it’s icy and chilled by the time I get home.
Know your body. Really, there’s no point in pushing through misery. If your calves don’t loosen up, if your head begins to pound, if you’re feeling faint at all, then give yourself a break. Know that your body is working overtime and that you’re better off recognizing the signs of fatigue or dehydration than burdening yourself any more than you need to. This week, I’m already planning on hitting a yoga class or two.
Dress properly. There’s nothing worse than a sweaty summer run in which your clothing malfunctions.
Wear thin socks that prevent friction (to avoid blisters).
Choose tighter shorts that won’t weigh you down with sweat.
Find tanks that won’t chafe your underarms.
Consider sunglasses, both so you don’t have to squint when running into the sun and to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
For the ladies, pull your hair back tightly, and bring an extra tie in case the one in your hair breaks.
Don’t ever, ever wear gray.
So yea, the first week back was definitely rough, and despite the continued heat, I’m hoping that it gets better. By now, my body has definitely recovered from hiking and mountain biking. Other than that, I’m just waiting for my mind to come back down to earth.
Thoughts on running in summer heat?
How do you prepare for sweaty runs, long or short?