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Running in the Heat

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.I’ve heard this more times than I want to count and I don’t care whether it’s the heat or the humidity, I still don’t like running in oppressive summer conditions.There’s nothing I’d like better than to run in the cool, dry mountain air.But, even in the mountains, there would be a time when I would have to run in heat and humidity.No matter where you live, there will always be times when you feel like those dreams where you are running through mud.You are trying to move as fast as you can, but each step is stuck in a thick pool of mud up to your ankles.And, there will always be times when you struggle to inhale through the proverbial wet washcloth.

There are so many articles offering tips on how to beat your summer time running blues.Some will tell us to start slow so our body temperature won’t get too high too early in the workout and slow us down prematurely.Others will tell us to ignore our speed.Our speed will normally be 1 to 1 ½ minutes per mile slower than it would be in cooler, drier weather.I’ve read that humidity makes it more difficult for sweat to evaporate from our bodies.Sweating cools us down, so in humid conditions it’s more difficult to keep cool.Heat will also raise our heart rates, so some articles suggest taking breaks.

I can read all the tips in the world and I still don’t feel like going out the door and into the sauna.But, I found that early morning running and an attitude change helps.For me, there’s nothing better than watching the sun rise over the ocean, making the water seem like Fourth of July sparklers.The sun paints the sky with watercolors of pink and orange and red.I love to see dolphin dance in the waves, as they race with me along the shoreline.I gaze at the pelicans as they glide effortlessly above the turquoise water looking for breakfast.

I once wrote about one of my early morning beach runs.I was enjoying the beautiful morning and the soft sound of the ocean when I saw a blue heron, almost as tall as me.He caught his breakfast and was holding it in his beak preparing to swallow.His breakfast was a small sting ray.I stopped running to see how in the world he was going to swallow that sting ray.The blue heron chomped the ray to the right side.He chomped it back to the left.And then he swallowed the whole thing, barb and all.I will never cease to be amazed how these birds, with long skinny necks, can swallow such things whole.

Sights like these make my running so much fun.I get to start my day with a smile on my face and an appreciation for the beautiful places in which I run.You don’t need to live by the beach to enjoy the beauty around you.Just find a park, trail, river, lake or even a road you’ve never been on before.If you have never run in the early morning, try it wherever you live.Then, when you head out the door, forget how much you dread running in the heat. Try my attitude adjustment and pay attention to the beautiful things in your park, trail, river, lake, or mystery road.Once you start to notice and really enjoy the beauty of the world surrounding your run, I’ll bet you won’t even care how hot or humid it is.

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