I used to run only in the spring and fall, in the spring to ramp up my fitness fast after a long winter and in the fall because well it got easier by then. And let me tell you I was dramatic about it, it’s too hot! The cold burns my lungs, I was like the meteorological Goldilocks when it came to running. But that changed last year I decided to run a half marathon on October 2nd which meant base training in the spring and real training started July 9th, welcome to the sauna!
But it wasn’t that bad, really! Last summer turned out to be the hottest and driest on record in about 100 years! Which meant no well water and marathon training for September and half of August but I’ll spare you the details on that one. I made it through though, lots were done in 27 degree Celsius weather (80F) with humidex values in the low to mid 30’s, honestly it wasn’t terrible. I was cruising through the #JustDoIt and #nrc hashtags after Nike’s NRC global Sunday 5k and I realized even though my post is my lonely footprints on a snowy beach a lot of you are already wearing shorts! Even though it’s snowing here now, I know I’m pissed about that too, I realize it’s starting to heat up for runners in more reasonable locals.
I read and even tried the standard tips out there and most of them are probably BS at least for me. Dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer, put a frozen water bottle in your sports bra and wet your hat, no, no and no. I can’t take off my skin, that’s going to freeze my back, poke my bones and lead to a damp bum and I don’t want to wear a hat thank-you-very-much. So how did I get through it well read on!
2. Run consistently as it warms up
Get out there every week as the weather warms up so your not jumping a lot of degrees all at once. So if you want to be out there in July, get out there in June, and before that in May, so start now in April! It will help you acclimatize to the rising temperatures slowly over time.
1. Wear less clothes
Notice this is number one even though it comes second, that’s because I didn’t want to scare you with this first. Take it off baby! This is a hard one I know it is, but what I difference it makes. I’m not particularly modest, you should see the skirts I wore in my early 20’s. I’m lucky to have only the minimal set of body qualms that come with being a human female and I was in decent plus shape starting training last year. But I still always ran in a t-shirt or tank top. Since going in just the bra, more on how that developed to come, I’ve thought about why I kept myself covered up.
I think it’s due to the possibility of getting and dealing with unwanted attention. I don’t have a big issue with that and I didn’t in just my bra either to be truthful. It happens rarely to me and it’s usually minimal. Our small town means you’ll see the car and the person again so people are generally well behaved. The area is flooded with tourists in the summer and beach we’re on attracts thousands of people on a hot day, some of them drinking. I get the odd beep from strangers, more encouraging ones from people I know, the odd pull over or holler with lewd comments but that really is it and it’s infrequent. Occasionally someone will do something really creepy like ask for directions to a hotel and after being directed to three still call me into their car so I can show them on the map. See that sign there for the Inn, follow that! and running off was all it took. No one ever followed me home or for more than a hundred meters. That being said I got some unwanted attention today, in the snow and dressed for such.
It makes all of the difference in the world to feel the breeze on your tummy and back. Now I joke if I was allowed to run naked in public I would. In Canada I can run topless if I want, on the really hot days I consider it. So what finally got me to loose the last layer, my stepson believe it or not! We were throwing rocks into a wharf crib at low tide in the blazing sun on one of the hottest days of the year. Since your working against the tide, time is limited and it’s all hands on deck, including mine. After complaining about the heat and how lucky the boys were he finally said, “just take it off then, it’s not fair you have to do the same work in different conditions from us, besides it’s not like I haven’t seen boobs before, it’s no big deal.” Mind you, I must note the dismissive tone, It wasn’t a big deal was it?
I still wear modest sports bras, well as modest as you can be in your bra on the street in public, along with my running skirts which I love in hot weather by the way. But I get it’s a big ask and less so for me in a lot of ways. It’s your body, why not be comfortable in it, even if your working on improving it? I did usually tuck a shirt in my sports bra just in case I wanted it but it rarely came out unless I got cold. Trust me try it once, SUCH A DIFFERENCE! The person who cares the most is probably, definitely you!
3. Run with more water, some of it frozen-ish
More cold water is better, nuff said. But it’s not is it? Depending on the length of your run go for fully frozen or just slushy. You can also go out in your car before long runs and stash frozen water bottles along the way with notes, so they are not picked up. Remember though you may need to pee, so bring TP! I never used the stinky, fly ridden outhouses on the beaches along the way until this year. I was happy to see them every time!
4. Let go of your goal pace, at least a bit
Especially for long runs closely monitor your effort level and get okay with going slower to avoid lovely things like dehydration and heat stroke. I was going really slow in the hot heat on long runs and I was convinced at one point I would be dead last, I even checked out previous times from the race. I was wrong, I would have been 7th last out of 400 runners. I asked a marathoner who had the misfortune of running into me repeatedly about it and all he kept saying is don’t worry you won’t be last. He was right, I finished in the middle of my age group and the top half of the race. On race day, you will go faster, when the weather is a bit cooler you’ll speed up.
5. If possible avoid the hottest parts of the day.
Run at or before dawn, ha ha ha just joking, I’ve almost never done that. I’m ideally a mid afternoon runner or after supper in the evening, realistically I run when I have the time in the day. It takes over 1/2 a litre of coffee to get me going in the morning and that kind of dedication to caffeine takes time. As much as I’d like them to be, unless the cat gets me up by 4 am, morning runs aren’t in my schedule. But I have to schedule my life around such factors as but not limited to; tides, student’s dance schedules, impending rain on a roofing job, family dinners the go from 3 – 11 pm and the daily feeding schedule of up to 12 men just in the last month. Other things pop up a lot too.
This summer the earliest I could get out there was 10 am for a long run but the latest was after 9:30 pm and spending the day on a roof for a 14 km fartlek. Typically I left for my long run before supper at 3 pm on Saturdays. Sometimes it was speed work during a break for high tide at 1 pm. Needless to say I had to run in the hottest of heat sometimes, but it’s better to avoid it if you can. If you find you have to train in the heat re-read tip 4.
6. Find the wind
I have my route, down the beach and through the back roads as much as possible to stay away from traffic during hunting season which goes from September 12 – March 31, yes 6 and a half months. I otherwise like to run on the trans Canada trail which is converted rail bed and right behind our house when it’s light out. But… the main road follows the ocean and is more open and breezy the way I usually don’t go. So as much as I like routines for long runs and hot days I ran the opposite way, with a much higher speed limit, and not on the oh so pretty trail all for the wind!
7. Wear all your favourite tech gear
You might buy a few duds, not at specialty gear is created equal, but I do mean all of it. Your best wicking bra, shirt, shorts or skirt and.. socks and undies specifically made for sweating and wash repeatedly. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg though theses Fruit of the Looms worked amazing and were cooler than expensive running store ones. My go to long run outfit I bought at a used clothing store, mostly because it happened to match. The socks though, buy a few pairs see what you like. Mine are all old and discontinued so I’m afraid I can’t recommend any. Sweat wicking socks make all the difference, weird I know, but trust me. Your also not likely to have pockets in your outfit so you need something to carry your stuff and water. A Hydration Running Belt like this one can be really great for summer training, plus it holds you phone and your TP. I killed an iPod nano by just sticking it in my bra repeatedly and sweating all over it, so not only does it hold your gear it saves it. Finally do not wear cotton, you’ve been warned.
8. Break it up or cut it short
There is no shame in cutting a run short if your feeling terrible. Usually the worst part is getting started and after a km or two you realize it’s not that bad. If it’s really hot and your starting to feel worse and worse it could be your body telling you something’s up. You can also split up a run it it’s too hot. Do half and cool down at home for a but before you head back out for the last half. This can really minimize your risk for overheating.
9. Wear sunscreen
I roll with SPF 100, skin cancer, mole removal scars and sun damage isn’t cute.