Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Fun Running

I haven't blogged much about running lately. I will give you a hint as to why.

Yes, it's that time of year again. Despite the fact that I have lived in East Texas for nearly seven years, the onslaught of summer never fails to smack me in the face and make me beg for mercy. And it's not just the triple degree temperatures (because it may say 98 but, as the local weatherperson likes to gleefully inform us, that's before the heat index). In my part of Texas, we also have to contend with the rampant humidity. Lovely.

Despite the challenges of the weather, I have been averaging about three runs a week. Since I'm not training for anything and will be moving in a few weeks, my summer goals are to maintain my running fitness while establishing my strength training routine. (You can lift weights indoors! A major plus.) This has been going swimmingly the last few weeks and, speaking of swimmingly (because running outside feels closer to swimming at this point), I have established three golden rules for Summer Fun Running which may be of interest to you.
  1. The earlier you run, the better. The streets are cooler in the morning because they've been under the cover of darkness all night, and your body temperature is lowest when you first wake up. I like to start my runs at 6am at the absolute latest.Warning: running in the morning is still hot and humid and hard, but it's not impossible.
  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Also, hydrate. I can't stress this enough. Lots of people like fancy sports drinks full of electrolytes and vitamins; I prefer plain, honest water. I always carry a bottle of water on my runs and I drink about two liters a day. (My Nalgene bottle is never far from my side.) 
  3. Now is the time to practice acceptance. It is a known fact that when the temperatures rise and the humidity thickens, my pace will drop... and drop... and drop. My former easy, recovery pace is my new speed workout. Struggling through a slow three miler can be demoralizing - it feels like I'm going backward in my training - but everything is relative. As long as my heart rate is up and my legs are working hard, my pace is irrelevant. At least until fall, anyway. 
On the bright side, here's the ten day forecast for Wilmington: 

A full fifteen degrees cooler on most days, and look! Actual rain! That will be a nice change from the three year drought in which Texas is currently languishing. I already have my eye on two races in North Carolina (a half marathon in November and a full in March) but I'll wait until I get there and see what my new schedule looks like before making any firm commitments. Knowing the summer will be slightly more forgiving and my days a little more flexible, however, makes me hopeful.

How do you handle exercising in extreme weather? I could always use more tips!