Embrace the Struggle: Running in Humidity and Heat

Gasp…sniff…sob…”David, I can’t”…sniff.. “run here!”

David has surely dealt with many meltdowns over 13 years of living with a runner often in marathon training, but neither of us were prepared for my reaction to moving to Miami from Kansas City. The first few days, I noticed within moments of heading out the door I could wring sweat buckets out of my shirt. But hey there was water, it was new, it was exciting!!

Then summer marathon training hit.
Hilarious and true  runner thoughts on summer runningI was ready to gold plate my shoes, put them on a shelf and start talking about the good old days when I used to be a runner.

But the endorphins kept calling my name and the desire to be along the water enjoying our time there pulled me back outside, again and again. Finally, I formed a reluctant truce with the heat and humidity. While we will never be friends, I have learned what works to get me through the tougher months of training.

Note this is said from Orlando where it’s still hot and sticky, but I have winter months that are not…you know the whole things look rosier from afar.

Awhile back on Facebook, I put out the question “what do you like about summer running?”

This was caveated by the fact that I listened to people whine about winter for months, so surely something must have appealed to them about the new season…I got one response that I admit has just stuck in my craw: “Nothing”.

When prodded to find something positive because well I believe that would at least make the summer bearable for this person, it just turned in to an ongoing debate of why summer is awful.
Why we need to embrace the struggleHere’s the thing..you can’t change the weather, you can’t change your location, being outdoors is all kinds of good for us…so why not just get down and dirty with it.

Sweat your buns off, come home dripping, run through sprinklers and realize that wishing for another season means you are always missing out on what’s here.

On Periscope I just talked with everyone about embracing the struggle…we look at the beautiful PR photos, new jobs, trips and happy moments everyone posts, forgetting that they had to do the foundational work to get there.

  1. These hot weather runs are going to make you so fast in the Fall!
  2. “if you need to drop weight fast (Lose 4 Pounds in 12 Minutes!), it’s the best way to do so, with the exception of eating three-days-in-the-sun potato salad.” – Per Ted Spiker of RW
  3. Ice baths actually start to sound appealing
  4. Remember this is part of the process
  5. It gives you appreciation for the good days
  6. It reminds you to be compassionate for the difficulties others face
  7. Once you stop fighting it you can put energy in to enjoying the run or finding solutions
  8. It’s an opportunity to practice pushing through the hard moments like you will on race day
…people who have had success in the past, give up during the struggle. They have forgotten the amount of willingness, energy and frustration that they put up building their first company that made them successful. They forgot what a struggle it was, and they don’t feel like doing it again, so they give up or do something else.Dan Martell

Honestly there’s nothing that’s going to make it better other than your mind. It’s hot and wet your body can’t dissipate heat, so you just have to hydrate, slow it down and smile your ass off. How’s that for coaching, ha ha!!
11 tips for running in the heat and humidity - plus how to mentally embrace the struggleBut here are a few more tips that can help with hot weather running:

  • Slow down – One of the reasons I like LHR training is I know exactly how hard my body is working and it helps me to put my effort in perspective. When it’s hot, stop using your pace as a guide and go on effort.
  • Don’t underestimate a breeze – While morning running may be your choice if the evenings carry a breeze it may be worth flipping your schedule. This was the case in Miami…though I was too stubborn to change my schedule.
  • Ice – Because the humidity prevents your body from releasing heat you need to get creative with your core temperature down. This could mean running with a cold towel on your neck or carrying a handheld with ice water {checkout these options for carrying hydration}, other folks have great sherpas that bring them iced sponges.
  • Visors, not hats – Back to your body needing to release heat, don’t further trap it under a hat. If you like shading your face try switching to a visor.
  • Ice hat – Caveat to the above is if you soak your hat in water then place it in the freezer overnight. Take it out 5-10 min before your run and let your brain soak in the cool. {Hey we know running is a mental sport, so trick yourself in to feeling cooler!}
  • Sunglasses – While this won’t actually make the humidity any better, it can impact your overall run. As the sun rises and you being to squint, your brain is working hard to help yours eyes, which has been shown to zap your energy…yup it all adds up! Relax the face, give your eyes a break!
  • Shade – Try to plan out routes that have as much shade as possible if you are doing longer runs or go before the sun comes up. While the temperature may not be any different the feeling of that sun beating down on your already overly hot arms, legs and face can make a tough run worse.
  • Caffeine – A few different studies have shown that caffeine prior to a run can improve performance without impacting hydration, important in the summer, so go ahead and enjoy your morning Espresso or perhaps an iced latte because you’re focused on pre-cooling!
  • Lightweight Clothing – I’ve had numerous tops that seem to become dresses in a long humid run because they soak up the water and stretch! This is not only bizarre looking, but entirely uncomfortable!
  • Smile – Seriously!! Studies have shown that smiling will make you feel better because it’s hard to have both positive and negative thoughts at the same time….plus no one is making you run! You GET to run.
  • Electrolytes – I’ve talked before about the importance of electrolytes, but they become even more important as you are both sweating and guzzling water to stay hydrated in the summer heat.

Why does it feel so much harder to run when it’s hot?
The heat alone makes your heart rate rise, but with the added humidity your body can’t cool down because the sweat never evaporates.

  • HR increases up to 10 beats per minute in humidity ranging from 50% to 90%
  • HR increases by 2 to 4 beats per minute in temperatures from 60°F to 75°F
  • HR increases up to 10 beats per minute in temperatures from 75°F to 90°F

There you have it, you aren’t crazy. It doesn’t just feel harder, it really is more work for your body. With that said…the campaign to move to California or Colorado resumes immediately. Hey I don’t have to LOVE the struggle, I just have to LEARN from it.

How do you embrace bad weather running?

Would you prefer a snowstorm or hot/humid day?

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  1. says

    This is a great post! Growing up in North Carolina, I always ran in the heat and humidity. But I never knew the science behind it and why that made it so unbearable. Thanks for enlightening me!

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