Heat and Humidity, ‘nuf said, right?
I’m not going to lie. It is tough transitioning to heat and humidity from the minor break from ice and cold, but I am starting to dread it less. Why? I am not exactly sure. Maybe, it is because with it brings new clothes. 🙂 Maybe, it is because I am changing my state of mind. Although, I love summer running clothes, especially tanks. I think that I like the annual challenge of preparing my body for another round of summer. As the days grow warmer and more humid, I am now reminding myself that it is not so bad. It would be a shame to only run in the cold and take summer’s off. 😦
I have had two very warm and humid runs this season to speak of. One run was a 9-miler on a Sunday afternoon around 1:30 pm. The other was an 11.5-miler on a Thursday, late morning, around 9:45. BOTH were hot. BOTH were humid. I bombed the 9-miler because I did not run with an electrolyte drink and I did not “-pre-hydrate”, nor did I drink enough on the trail in that amount of time. (Remember, when you are on the trail, you are going to be out in the elements longer. So, 9 miles might take me 2h 15min on a hot day. 11 will take almost 3 hours.) I think I also started to panic a bit. I was not nervous that I would never reach water again, but I could not stop thinking about it, which caused me to worry that I was now going into hydration deficit (dehydration).
The 11.5-miler was completely different. I drank about 16 ounces of water on the way to the trail. I carried 16 ounces of powerade, and I timed my mileage so that I would get to water by the time I finished my powerade. Also, when I stopped for water, I drank 8 ounces first and splashed my head, face and neck with water. I filled up my bottle and headed out for the rest of my route. I was still hot, but I was not in any type of water deficit. I also did not feel like I was in danger of dehydration.
Running in the heat and humidity for the first couple of weeks will also make you feel like you are out of shape. Please remind yourself that you are not out of shape, you have not lost fitness. It is hot. It is humid. Your body has to work harder to cool itself off. By drinking, consuming electrolye capsules or beverage you are helping your body to stay cool and cool off. Here is a bit about the science of your body cooling you off. Also, keep in mind that glycogen stores are depleted faster in hot, humid weather. I quoted a good article in the Sport’s Research Intelligence Sportive Newsletter about heat, training, glycogen.
To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher. –Mayo Clinic
When you train in hot weather, your body uses more muscle glycogen, which can result in fatigue sooner than in cooler weather. Even when you do become acclimatized, you will not perform at your best, though acclimatization can slow down this increased glycogen use.
Acclimatization increases your blood volume and improves transfer of heat from deep body tissues to your outer shell. Sweating starts sooner during exercise, and after 10 days of training in the heat your sweat capacity is nearly doubled. Sweat also becomes more diluted in an attempt to preserve the body’s electrolyte balance. -Sports Research Intelligence Sportive , “Drinking It In”
Be patient as you move into summer. Do not ‘dread’ the heat/humidity. There are many ways that you can keep yourself cool and enjoy the added challenge of the weather. Remember, you cannot control the weather but you can control how you prepare for it, what you wear and how your mind thinks about it. You are not the only runner who will need to get used to the heat. We all will. Press on!
I’m leaving you with three great quotes from the book Flow in Sports: The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances. by Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihayi.
If you choose challenges that match or threaten to exceed your level of ability, you need to know how to control the anxiety and the state of arousal that your choice will cause. (p. 538)
Practice the skills to the point that you can forget you have them! Then, abandon yourself to the performance. (p. 51)
The issue of whether you are a better athlete than your opponent is one you can do nothing about. You can do something about how much of your physical and mental equipment you will be able to put to good use. (p. 541)