News flash: this summer has been HOT! As noted here, an historic amount of the world has seen record temperatures and ‘extreme heat’ this summer. Naturally, this type of heat means that it is more important than ever to keep hydrated to avoid heat-related sickness.
I am currently training for a marathon (my first ever) at the end of next month, and getting ready for a half-marathon (also my first) next weekend. This has meant running more miles, harder miles, more sprints and hills, and so on. In other words – more sweat and exhaustion with less down-time.
Coupled with the fact that even at my 4AM wake-up time there have been dozens of days over 75 degrees (F) this summer, many of those with high humidity, and I have found keeping up my pace to be a great challenge.
Apparently I am not the only one … I belong to a regional running group on Facebook that has been great for finding races (including the half-marathon next weekend), and the other day one of the members who is also a published author posted this (edited) note:
Over the past couple of weeks I have received numerous emails and texts about training during this brutally hot summer. Today, [someone] texted to inform me that he completed a slow 7-mile run, and therefore, he was backing out of a Half Marathon scheduled for the end of September. He is one of the toughest, dedicated runners I know, so I decided to weigh in with my thoughts.
…First, statistically, we have had more days over 90 degrees thus far than any summer on record. So, it is not your imagination. You are not getting slower, and, no, it is NOT time to quit.
Last week, on a day when it was 97 degrees, I completed a 7-mile run, when a good samaritan, actually stopped in his truck to ask if I needed assistance. I’ve been training for 36 summers now, and this, indeed, is a very difficult one.
So, do what it takes. Cut your miles, run early in the morning or in the evening. Accept the fact that your training and racing times are going to be slower than you expect. Simply: maintain! Water, water, water. Down your throat, over your head, on your legs, on the back of your neck. Garden hose your legs, like they do with thoroughbred horses. Take an ice bath. Eat a lot of fruit. Keep a bottle of water with you always. Drive to shade if you have to. Plant water along the course.
We will all beat these temps, so DON’T DESPAIR!!! September, October, and November are the best months of the year for training, so better days are on the way. We’re all in this. Heck, it’s hot in Minnesota these days.
This summer will make you tougher and stronger, but stay safe. I want to see you on the roads and at races for many years to come.
A few weeks ago on one of those 100 degree days, my wife and I had already gone for a few mile walk, then we all pitched in and spent the afternoon taking apart our huge playset (since the boys are both over 6 feet tall it was time). After dinner it seemed like a great idea to take a run; my plan was a 4 – 6 mile route, and I brought a water bottle along due to the heat (I wouldn’t normally bother at that distance).
But once I got out, I felt great and there was a good breeze (even though the temperature was still over 90) so I ended up doing 15.5 miles … in 90 degree heat … with 12 ounces of water. Stupid – and to make it worse I chugged water when I got home that only made me feel worse for a while. Fortunately I was OK, took a day off and was right back to my routine.
But I was reminded that you really need to take extra caution during the summer months. The post above has a number of tips, and you can get more at CoolRunning.
But most importantly – don’t give up. Just because you are slower than on a nice cool May morning doesn’t meaning you are slowing down or failing. You are actually toughening up and getting yourself ready to do even better once the temperature cools back down to a reasonable level.