Saturday, June 9, 2012

Running in the South in the Summer

I'm trying to get used to getting an early start on long run days so that I don't feel like dying from heat & humidity. Last week still felt great by the time I finished running, but this morning, at almost the exact same time,  I was feeling ready to be done running & inside. While I was out though, I was making a mental tick list of things that make running in the southern summer weather a little nicer for me.

#1. Like I mentioned last week, it can suck to lug around extra weight sometimes, but I'm really starting to love running with my hydration belt. The thing about southern summers is that MOST of the time you'll be running in heat AND humidity. It can really zap your energy and it can get dangerous if you don't stay on top of hydration. A hydration belt might be a little too much for a three or even six mile run, but it's smart to at least bring a handheld water bottle along. You never know when a seven mile run might turn into a ten mile run, or the weather that feels ok when you start out, feels terrible and suffocating a few miles in. You definitely don't want to risk being stuck without water in the heat. This is the one I use
                                                                  nathan elite
But if you want something a little less clunky, you could get something like this
                                                               @Becky Laws

#2. Pacing and spacing are important. Run at a comfortable pace. No one needs  to get heat stroke, right?! And for me I'm finding it's better to space my water and whatever I've packed to refuel, evenly. Every two miles of runs longer than six miles I'll drink water or Powerade (NOT Gatorade. I hate that stuff, but some people love it). On runs longer than ten miles, I'll have a Honey Stingers energy chew with my drink of water. If I get off of this schedule it seems to be harder for my body.

#3. Start as early as you can while still feeling rested from the night before, and safe to run in the area you're running in.Today I finished at the same time I started two weeks ago. I was able to get in all the miles that I wanted to run, and although I wasn't feeling super, I ran and finished strong. If I had started at the same time I finished, it would have been miserable. I would have maybe gotten half way in before I had to walk, and once I walk I do it again, and again, and again. Frustrating and discouraging. To go along with this one, unless you know a safe place to throw extra clothing, or want to shove it in your hydration belt (mine has a little elasticized band to hold things like top layers of clothing), try to dress for your last five miles rather than the first five. Remember this is the south, in the summer, that I'm talking about, it's still like 57 degrees when I start, not 30. So it's a little chilly starting out but a mile or two in, it's comfortable.

#4. I really love that there's a decent sized stretch of my out and back that has honeysuckles and even when I'm in the neighborhood there are a few areas that are particularly fragrant. This morning I wasn't enjoying my run quite as much as last week, and was needing a pick me up right as I passed the honeysuckles at mile five. When I came back through at mile eight I was expecting the smell and it made it that much better.

#5. No joke, watch your step. I've seen everything from dead and live snakes, to a possum that could have been dead or alive, scary looking insects, smushed squirrels, and then all of the universally found things like litter, car parts, discarded clothing etc. Which inspires my next two thoughts. First of all, someone should bring Captain Planet out of retirement
or at least keep your clothes in your car. If Bojangle's cups & beer cans aren't bad enough, I never want to see another pair of underwear while out running again. What the what?! Second, the earlier the heat & humidity start, the earlier you'll get a too strong whiff of dead animal. If it's there, anywhere, you'll know it. UGH!!

#6. If you're what I like to call a "hood runner" (you run in neighborhoods), and a people person like me, you'll probably have the opportunity to enjoy some southern hospitality. No, I'm not talking about the guy who yells "He don't bite!" at you from the door of his house as his psychotic, rabid looking dog is chasing you. You'll likely see some of those, but I'm talking about the people who sit out on their porches or work in their yards every Saturday morning. They'll notice that you are out every weekend too and they'll likely have some form of encouragement for you. Smiles, waves, cheers. Some will try to talk to you as you run, some when you are finished. They'll ask you how far you've run and be very impressed. Or tell you they "love your energy". When my mom was training for the Divas half there was a little man who would come out every week and cheer for her and tell her to keep it up and it would pay off for her. How many times I've found myself wanting to walk or stop or skip and thought of  the person who watches me every week, and kept running.

Ok, I'm dying to hit the hay, so these are my 6 tips for southern summer running. If you have any summer running tips, feel free to share them with me. It's going to be a summer full of running for me this year.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Jessica! I'm trying to plow through this heat and humidity, too... I don't have much to add, I'm doing the same things- as early as I can in the morning, shady routes wherever possible, carrying some water, and relaxing about my pace. Counting down til fall temps come back! :)