So running has kinda become my thing ... marathons to be exact. I ran my first marathon back in March and am currently training for the Chicago Marathon in October. This is strange territory as I have spent the past 4 years of my life being a) pregnant b) nursing small babies c) chasing toddlers and preschoolers and d) eating cookies. Not a lot of room on my schedule for exercise! Alas, I am currently between pregnancies (although I still have the preschooler and toddler, hee hee), and my house is sadly bereft of Oreos these days. Therefore I run.
(You know? I've never been good at math, but that doesn't all add up exactly right now does it?!)
ANYWAY! I'm enjoying running on a regular schedule! It gets me out of the house, alone!, in my own head space for 30 mins to an hour about 5 days a week. It's fantastic, and truthfully I'm mentally and physically better for it. The only current problem I have these days is the hot summer weather. This week was particularly dreadful heat-wise as it was nearly 90 degrees by 10 am one day! Guys, I live in Southern California and am spoiled. I prefer a more temperate 65-70 degree sea breeze run, mmkay? BUT STILL! Did you know that it's usually blistering hot in Chicago come marathon time? That's right, the marathon happens in October ... but I observed several people collapsing on the course last year from dehydration and heat exhaustion. It didn't look pleasant and it's my goal to NOT become one of those poor folks this year when I attempt the race.
SO! Here's how I keep myself healthy while running when the temperature is skyrocketing. Also please note I am not a doctor or a professional athlete. I am a regular person who does what's right for herself. Please do the same for yourself. And consult a doctor before beginning a new exercise regime.
1. Hydrate. DUH. Everyone says this. But does drinking two cups of coffee before you run count? Yes, I suppose so, but it's probably not enough. About 15 minutes before I run I like to chug a cup of water with an Emergen-C packet. I get mine at Trader Joe's or Target and they are AMAZING. If you're not a Gatorade kind of person (like me) this might be up your alley. After I get in from running I also drink a recovery drink, usually a scoop of protein powder mixed with water. We like Muscle Milk at our house (mmm chocolate, available in huge bags at Costco!), but Target also makes an excellent generic if you want to try it out without spending a ton on a 5 pound bag. You can also add this stuff to your smoothies. I just put a scoop in a mason jar with water, screw on the top, shake it up and glug. Good stuff.
2. Sunscreen. Don't leave home without it. Neutrogena makes an excellent spray sunscreen that I buy for the kids and use on myself. Also available in bulk at Costco! Make your list!
3. Eat something. If you're a morning runner (like me) don't make the mistake of going out on an empty stomach in the heat. I used to do this ALL the time and would get all light-headed and loopy. Your body needs fuel. Because I am going on some long-butt training runs, I need food in my stomach when I leave and I usually need to carry a Gu with me. A small bowl of cereal or oatmeal, a granola bar, try different stuff and see what works for you. I wouldn't recommend bacon and eggs though!
4. A hat or sunglasses. For most of my running career I've been a hat kind of lady. My hair has been super short for a while and I needed to keep it back out of my face. As a bonus, the hat kept the sun out of my eyes! Now that my hair is barely long enough for a ponytail, I can pull it back and forgo the hat, which is much cooler. I use these little Goody elastics that get a good grip on my fine hair and keep it back. I'm currently wearing my giant bug sunglasses from Forever 21 when I run, but would like to get a nicer pair of sport glasses. Any suggestions?
5. Skip the underwear! I cannot believe I just wrote that, but heck, I recommend it! I got tired of sweating (quite literally!) my butt off under my knee-length running tights and one day just ... skipped them. I haven't gone back since. Give it a try! For scientific research! A lot of running shorts have briefs built in anyway. I cannot tell you how much of a HUGE difference this made.
6. Get yourself a pair of shorts. Now listen, I KNOW. We don't all have little runner legs, even though we runs lots of miles. FINE. Maybe we're not going to look perfect in a pair of shorts, but you know what? Swallow your pride. It's hot. Get yourself a comfortable pair of lightweight shorts. I myself recently purchased a pair of those 80's flyaway side shorts because I was so tired of my shorts creeping up my crotch when I ran. THEY ARE AWESOME. I look ridiculous. But I do not care and neither should you.
7. Listen to your body. If it's blazing hot, you feel like you're going to barf and your heart is about to jump out of your chest? Stop for a minute. Slow down and walk. Don't be a hero! My mantra on a lot of my runs is "JUST GET HOME." And yes, I have to walk some. I try to limit myself to walking for 30 seconds, or I choose a spot up ahead to walk to and make myself start running when I get there. If I'm in a cool shady spot and I need to stop for a minute, I do. No pride. Just don't stop for longer than a minute or two. Your body will start quitting on you if you do and you'll lose your momentum.
8. Carry water with you. I got one of those goofy hydration belts for long runs and I LOVE it. I asked a lady runner out on the beach path if she liked her belt and she gave it a huge thumbs up, so I bought a Fuel Belt. You can also get water bottles to hold in your hand that have straps, or just take a regular old plastic bottle with you. If you're going to be out for a long time (more than 5 miles), take water or Gatorade or something with you.
9. Make an upbeat playlist. Somehow all the running playlists got deleted off my iPhone this week so I've been running to the most EMO music EVER on shuffle. I love Ryan Adams and Patty Griffin just as much as the next person, but I do not want to hear a slow song with a metaphor about rain when I'm about to melt into a puddle on the sidewalk, thank you. "I'm Sexy and I Know It" will do just fine. Viva summer anthems!
10. Get your run in before lunch, the earlier the better. I hate to say it, but now's the time to set your alarm and get your run in before the kids wake up. It's cooler and easier on your body. Not that I do that ... I usually walk my daughter to school and leave the boys at home to play trains at around 9:30 am and get my run in. But sometimes it's already pretty hot by that time and mid-run I'm wishing I'd banged it out before the sun was out in full. Maybe next week!
How do you beat the heat when you exercise outside in the summer months?