heat adjustment

It’s HOT.

In case you haven’t heard, or stepped outside, temperatures are in the triple digits and humidity is excessive.  It’s disgusting.  And as much as I LOVE summer (I truly do, it is my favorite season without question), it’s really not the most ideal situation to be running in.

For the last week I have basically tried to ignore this fact, wanting to will myself capable of soaring above even the highest temperatures.  I hydrated as usual (which is well, but not well enough in these temps – I have got to drink more).  I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement determined to nail my training paces just as I did before the temperatures rose.

From Friday of last week through Wednesday of this week I went on 6 runs, and all of them felt ridiculously hard – even the ones that were supposed to feel easy.  I felt like I was trapped in some kind of weird heat bubble, struggling to get out and fighting to hang onto a pace that my body just did not want to run.  Paces and distances that I normally ran comfortably, felt harder than my toughest marathon.  I looked at my watch in disbelief and asked myself — why in the world am I working so hard to run a pace that normally feels so effortless?

It messed with me mentally and caused me to doubt my fitness.

So yesterday I took the day off – a planned rest day.  And today I went out for an 8 mile run and my goal was to enjoy myself.  To find my love for running again because over the last week it has been on some sort of vacation.  I wanted to dial myself back and reset my way of thinking.  To remind myself why I love to run and why being able to train is so important to me.  I needed to take a closer look at my priorities with regards to my running.  What I told myself – “it’s not about how fast you can move, but about the fact that you MOVE at all.”

I don’t like to make excuses, but the fact is I am slowing down in this heat and that is what my body needs right now.  If I push through it, I will pay for it either by hating it or by getting hurt – neither of which I am willing to risk right now.

So today I went out there early – the sun was just rising over the ocean.

this never gets old

And I put one foot in front of the other.  I listened to my body and it didn’t complain about the easy pace one bit.  I let my body dictate how fast I would move, and it was just fine.  I was along for the ride, soaking up the beauty that was all around me.  Appreciating the fact that my body was able to run 8 miles in this heat — COMFORTABLY for a change.  I averaged an 8:53 pace, each mile faster than the last.  My last mile in 8:33 felt easy.  I finished feeling hopeful and strong.

This run brought with it a realization, a wake up call, that I have been needing for quite some time.  I believe in pushing our limits and finding out what we’re capable of.  I’m one of those “go hard or go home” type people most days.  But we cannot always live outside our comfort zone!  In this heat, for me that means I will need to slow down to find a comfortable place so I can really recover and reset my perspective.  Just stepping outside is uncomfortable enough, so if I want to move and feel good, I need to slow down!  I need to trust in my training, to believe that running slower in the heat is not a bad thing, that it will not derail my fitness.  Once my body is adjusted to the heat the faster paces won’t feel quite so hard, and when the cooler temperatures return in the fall I will be stronger having outlasted the heat.  But if I push too hard through the wrong kind of discomfort, I will burn out and QUICK.  I will get frustrated and maybe even injured.  And that is a price I am NOT willing to pay.

So here’s to slower but consistent running during these brutally hot summer days.  Making easy runs actually feel easy.  Here’s to listening to our bodies and doing what we love!

How do you deal with the summer heat?  Does your pace naturally slow like mine does?  How long does it usually take you to adjust to the heat and humidity?

12 thoughts on “heat adjustment

  1. My speed has tanked in this heat, but that happens every summer. I'll never get back to my “normal” pace as long as the heat is above 75. I love late September/early October though – it's my fastest time of the year as the temps drop and my body celebrates the cooler weather.

  2. Great lesson learned! Definitely don't let this heat fool you into believing that you are any less fit! My strategy is to run within my “easy” heart rate zone to ensure that I am actually keeping my easy runs easy. This often means running VERY slowly, but I don't care because I know it's proper training.

  3. Trust me, there are some nice benefits to not wearing a Garmin, and being ignorant of your actual pace is one! I just go by feel in the heat. Even during speed work, where I have certain time goals, I accept that I will be a bit off when it's this hot/humid. So yes, cut yourself some slack and know that come September, you will be stronger for it!

  4. My runs have felt so ridiculously hard, however, I have to remind myself of the heat and that I am pregnant. So really being pregnant is a good thing, because I have to be ok with slowing down anyway and I'm not trying to get hard runs in. But from past experience and now, I know I need tons of water. I have to be hydrated. If I am hydrated, I can make it. And just think how nice those cool runs will feel come fall.

  5. It's been a huge adjustment for me living in Texas this summer and trying to figure out when and how to run! My runs are definitely hard and slower, but I've had a few good ones, too. Just taking it a day at a time, and doing more biking and swimming for a change of pace. I signed up for a tri on a whim, and now I'm realizing what perfect timing that was!

  6. i recently read somewhere that on average higher temps can add up to a minute onto a runner's pace…ooofah. once a week i do a treadmill run, but at least three times a week i'm outside in the heat and humidity. i'm training for a relay next month, so i'm trying to get as used to it as possible!

    after a seriously awful run a few weeks ago, i've decided to slow down my long run a bit. i'm also trying to be mindful of drinking plenty of fluids even on non-run days and for my long run i fill my quickshot with coconut water. like you said, i'm hoping that come my fall races i'll be feeling that much stronger for all of the effort i'm putting forth now!

  7. Wow. you have some great scenery to look at.
    I have a great treadmill hookup in my basement, but hate to feel like I'm wimping out of the weather. our local track has water available, so I tend to go there, but it starts to feel like mile intervals with water stops every mile. And I do always feel woozy and wonder how long until i'd be found if I faint to the pavement.

  8. Ugh yes the heat is so difficult. I like your take on it though — not to force it. Your body knows what it can and can't handle most of the time. Having views of the ocean would certainly motivate me to get outside more, but for now, indoor workouts are my way to go. I'm trying to get outside for at least a mile each week, just so that I remain used to running outdoors, off the treadmill. I have a HOT HOT race planned in august and I want to stay ready. I ought to get out more than I am, but the heat makes it tough and I do NOT feel well in it. I guess, like you say, we've just got ot be okay with slowing down so we can keep going.

  9. I like to remind myself (several times during the run) that it will ALL pay off when the weather cools down. Sometime in October (at least where I'm from) the weather finally cools and running faster feels MUCH easier than it does when it's summer.If I've put in the miles (even slower miles)- I know I will be ready when the time is right. Good post!

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