Giving Up on Summer RunningPosted on Jul 26th 2010 1:00PM by Jennifer Fields
I've interviewed experts on running in extreme weather, and they all seem to say the same thing -- that there's really no such thing as "too hot" to run. I respectfully disagree. There is such a thing as too hot to run. And for me, that demarcation is somewhere in the low 90s, lower if there's a lot of humidity.
I'm following all the advice: Adjust your running duration and intensity, avoid the hottest parts of the day and monitor your water intake, and I agree that these are the backbone of a good summer running plan. But when the temperature inches into the 90s, no matter what precautions I take, I feel overheated and exhausted a few minutes into my run.
I know it takes a few weeks to acclimate to the heat, but it seems at this point in the summer, I should be over the initial shock and able to power through. Yet I consistently find myself struggling to breathe, low on energy and annoyed.
As my run eventually slows to a crawl, I'm passed by people who seem unaffected by the soaring temperatures and are able to keep a quick and strong pace. I don't know how they do it.
That's Fit assistant editor Amber Greviskes is one of them. She's training for a fall marathon and has no choice but to run in the heat, but she assures me it hasn't been "easy or pretty." How does she do it?
"I usually run in as little clothing as possible: a sports bra, shorts and lots of body glide to prevent chaffing (which has helped but hasn't eliminated all of the problems) -- and sunscreen," she says. She's also drinking more water throughout the day regardless of when she's running and chooses Gatorade even after short workouts, whereas she would normally save that for long runs.
"I've definitely let myself slide more than I'd like but I would rather stay outside than hit the treadmill," she says. "I've been cutting myself some breaks, too. If I'm not feeling well, I'll cut back on mileage or walk part of the way home. I don't feel as bad if I miss my times as I would have a few months ago."
I, too, have tried giving myself some slack, incorporating walk breaks into my running, but when I can't get into a running groove at all and every second feels hard, I just want to give up.
Kim Davis, managing editor at AOL Music and also a runner, is on the same page as I am. "While I'd like to say that I've continued running through the New York City heat waves this summer, the truth is, I've run far less," she says. "At 90 degrees, it stops being fun. Your body stops thanking you for it, and instead, it starts hating you in the form of stomach aches and feeling like your face is on fire. The worst part about it is that summer is the time you want to look your best, but what once was an enjoyable stress reliever feels, lately at least, more like punishment. I'll stick to salads until it's over."
Amber echoes my frustration but meets it with more resolve. "The heat wave is frustrating because I want to be ready to do a marathon in the fall, and this is the time when I would normally begin more serious training," she says. "I've looked at multiple marathons that I hadn't considered before to buy myself a few more weeks of training."
A goal, like a marathon, is probably one smart way to keep yourself motivated to push through the heat, but this goalless runner is taking some time off.
Do you think I'm a slacker? Are you on a running hiatus, too? What's your summer running plan?
Still running this summer? Don't make these common summer running mistakes.