A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Running Through the Elements: Heat Edition

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... When I decided to venture out for my run at noon on Saturday, Accuweather stated that it was 90 degrees in Camp Hill, but the real feel was 99. Now, there are numerous other workouts I could have done besides running outside. I could have gone to Planet Fitness and done practically anything. I could have done a workout DVD or rode my spin bike in the lovely A/C. Even better, I could have gotten up early and ran before the temperatures had gotten so high!!

No. I had my mind set. It was Saturday, and on Saturdays I run 9 miles- usually hills. I was going to a pool party that night, and while I have gotten a lot better with my body image issues, I still had my mind set that any day that I had to put on a bikini was going to be a "long run" day. (I'm not perfect, I'm working on this!)

But with some modifications and flexible expectations, I was able to get a dang good run in, despite the heat. So this will be the first in a series of blogs about running through tough weather conditions, and ways to make those runs more safe (most importantly), but also more enjoyable.

A little introduction...

I am not a fair weather runner. I will run even if it is crappy outside. Rain, heat, freezing temperatures, and even certain snowfall is not an excuse for me to miss a run. If that were the case, I'd have an excuse almost everyday! Pennsylvania has one of those climates where we pretty much experience all types of extreme weather conditions. The only real choice is to acclimate your body to running in all kinds of weather.

That being said, there are some types of weather I will not venture out in because I deem it to be too dangerous or not worth the risk of injury. So let's break it down:

I will run in...                                                   I will not run in...

Extreme downpours                                        Icey or slippy conditions
Snow that is not slippy                                    Dangerous winds
Heat                                                               Tornado warnings/watches
Freezing temperatures                                     Lightening

Let's take just a minute to talk about the weather I will not run in. (By the way, I do know runners who would run through any sort of dangerous weather and I think that is just STUPID! Yay, you can tell all your friends you ran through 75mph wind gusts and feel all bad ass about it,, but one of these days a tree branch or trash can is going to smack you in the head and you will see what a dumb choice you made!)

Icey/Slippy - It is not worth it to me to fall and injure myself.
Dangerous winds - See trash can/tree branch comment above.
Tornados - Duh. Must I explain?
Lightening - Some people are not afraid of lightening but I am! And I would prefer to be INSIDE when it strikes!

So now for what I will run in. 
Today's post is going to focus on running in the HEAT!!

First of all, there are some people who just CANNOT run in the heat. They probably know who they are because they have had bad experiences. Or maybe they used to be able to tolerate it, but as they have gotten older, it's harder for their bodies to cool themselves down. For these people, no amount of modifications make it worth the discomfort or health risks. So if running in the heat is just something you cannot do, or if you simply don't enjoy it.... DON'T DO IT. Only do what you are comfortable with. Just because someone can/likes to run in extreme temperatures doesn't make them more bad ass than you.

But if you are someone that can tolerate high temperatures to a certain extent, here is a list of things I do to make my runs more safe when the temperatures have skyrocketed:

1. Plan a short route that is close to your house. When I ran on Saturday, I was never more than a 1/2 mile from my home.

2. Have flexible expectations. Don't go out saying, "I'm running 8 miles!" Say, "I'm going to see how I feel and adjust my mileage accordingly."

3. I always carry a bottle of ice water. It's not only for drinking, but for slowly pouring over my head and chest to cool myself off midway through the run. (This is best done under the shade of a tree!)

4. Bring a cell phone OR run in a neighborhood where there are plenty of people and houses in case you have an emergency.

5. Do not try to be a hero. This is not the time for a speed workout or tempo run. Do not concern yourself with pace or running hill repeats. Just put one foot in front of the other.

6. STOP IF YOU FEEL WEIRD. What is weird? Well, that depends on what is weird for you. For me, if I suddenly got a headache or felt nauseous, I would stop. If I suddenly started to feel really cold or couldn't focus, I would stop. These things would be "weird" for me.

7. Take shade breaks under a tree or run back to your house and cool off in the A/C for a few minutes.

These modifications worked for me on Saturday. I carried ice water and did a 4 mile loop around my neighborhood, pouring water over my head twice. I was never more than a half mile from home. After 4 miles, I went back to my house and cooled off in the A/C for 6 or 7 minutes. Then I went back out with a new bottle of ice water and did 2 more miles. I ended up running an average pace of 7:30, which is pretty good considering the circumstances! But I didn't even look at my Garmin until I was done. I just ran whatever felt good!

Could I have run all 6 miles at once? Probably. But I would have felt like complete and utter CRAP afterwards. And a workout is not supposed to make you feel like crap for the rest of the day... you should feel AMAZING.

Now, if only I could get my sleep schedule back on track so I could get up early and not have to worry about the horrible temperatures!

Are you able to run in the heat?
Do you have any tricks to help you?


  1. Be careful. I wear a medical ID bracelet.

  2. Good idea, Gary. I used to wear an ID bracelet but then I moved and my address is no longer the same on it. This was over 5 years ago. I guess I should get a new one...