Today, as part of a meeting of the Secret Blogger Club, I was tasked to write about summer or something summer-related. Since it’s getting to be that time of year and I’m already starting to fret a bit about it, let’s talk about warm-weather races, shall we?
The straight-up truth is: I hate running in the heat. Hate it. Massive, throbbing, red face and profuse sweating and grossness aside, running in the heat always makes me feel like I’m about to faint. And, since I have a history of fainting in varied places and situations (multiple doctor’s offices, Decemberists concerts, first aid classes, in a dentist’s chair), I believe strongly that I’ve filled my quota of involuntary unconsciousness and I do not want to add “in the middle of a race” (or, God forbid, “a foot from the finish line”) to my list of fainting locations.
With that adverse attitude to fainting firmly in hand, my approach to warm-weather races tends to be: Do whatever is necessary to stay conscious – walk, crawl, lay down in the shade… whatever it takes (thankfully I haven’t had to crawl or lay down in the shade… yet). I have chosen to walk for most of a few wicked hot races (Finish Line 5K, Feeney Five, and Old Port 5K), and while I still had fun at those races (well… I kind of hated my Feeney Five experience, but the other two were fun!) I was still disappointed in my horrible finishing times (42:17, 50:04, and 49:18, respectively). I also can’t help thinking that, if I’m going to be hot and miserable for the entirety of a race and end up walking most of it anyway, it’s kind of a waste of money to have signed up for it in the first place.
It was that thinking that kept me from even trying to register for this year’s B.A.A. 10K, the next step in my goal to complete all four B.A.A. races. Though I was enthusiastically jumping into a 10K training plan with Colin around the time of registration, just the thought of running my longest race to date in the expected heat and humidity of downtown Boston in late June made me want to faint. My training ended up being derailed by injury anyway, so it worked out in the end.
I may not be running that particular hot race this year, but I am registered for a few that could end up being doozies: a 6K this weekend, a reprise of the Old Port in mid-July, and my first 10K in August. And, if last year is anything to go by, my reprise of the Canal Diggers race in early September could be a hot one, too.
This summer, however, I have a game plan:
- Hydrate better!! I’m bad at this. I know I am. I tend to under-hydrate for races because I have a long-standing aversion to porta-potties. Newsflash: I’m a runner now. It’s time to get used to the porta-potties! I have a few tricks from the nutritionist under my belt this time around, as well as the memories of long, hot races with limited water last year. I *will* be better hydrated this year. I will utilize my hand-held water bottle if needed. I. Will. Hydrate.
- Be more prepared. Last summer I was still really new to running and wasn’t in great shape. This year, with more than a full year of running under my belt and training from the Shammies, I’m hoping these warm-weather races won’t be such a shock to the system. (I’m also hoping that my month-long layoff hasn’t totally thrown a spanner into my preparation works.)
- Proper gear. Last year, I ran two of my hottest races in a hat that was mostly black and very hot. I have a lighter, more breathable hat to wear this year, as well as a shiny new Buff headband that supposedly blocks UV light and is made from really light material. I also bought a tank top on clearance at Steep and Cheap that is made of a material that supposedly cools you down in the heat. (All these things are “supposedly” because I haven’t had a chance to try them myself yet to see if they live up to their promises.) No giant 100% cotton shirts for me this year, nosiree!
Will this game plan be successful? Only time will tell. I have a feeling much of it will depend on whether I can kick my lazy, under-hydrated butt into gear on the drinking-water front. Until then!
Do you have any tips for running in the heat?
Which do you think is worse, running in extreme heat or extreme cold?