These last few months have been a bit abnormal in my neck of the woods (well at least I think it is). We just moved to Virginia 10 months ago, so maybe I don’t know the traditional weather here but everyone has been mentioning there has been more precipitation than normal. It does remind me greatly of my days in Japan during 梅雨 (tsuyu; rainy season) in early summer right around this time. 梅雨はいつ明けるの. If you live in VA, let me know if this is normal please.
Either way around our neighborhood things have been warming up and there are days of 95F with 100% humidity to bear through. Personally I love the heat but it can be hard on the body to run in this temperature in the early evening with direct sunlight. Hence, I’m going to share with you my simple methods of beating the heat so you can continue running throughout the summer without touching a treadmill.
1. Drink an abnormal amount of water. Seriously! Every morning I take my 64oz Klean Kanteen and fill it to the brim with water. Then I make sure I drink half in the morning before lunch and half by the time I want to run. Normally I stop drinking the water 30 minutes before running; otherwise I wouldn’t make it through the entire run before ‘watering the bushes’. I’ve even seen people label two bottles for the times of day they must drink the water. Additionally take water to go with you on the run – if you are going to be gone more than 30 minutes, you should definitely take some along. You may not need it for a shorter run but it is always helpful to have it with you if necessary.
2. Coconut Water is another of my favorite items for hydration. While it is best cold, I have been known to place it in my running water bottle for longer runs. It has electrolytes that naturally keep you going throughout those sweaty runs. We tend to purchase Thai coconuts and crack them open and pour the water into the bottle – then we eat the ‘meat’ as a little treat. There are some nice natural ones on the market too.
3. Dates are a must for those with low sugar levels (like me) or want to run without getting low on it. Our bodies start to use sugar in our body as a carbohydrate for energy so it’s always a good idea to stock up. We actually purchase a large container at our local Lotté Korean market in the D.C area but when we lived in Cleveland, Ohio we used to purchase them from a Mediterranean store called Oasis Food Market. Most chain stores do sell medjool (my fav) dates but the price is about 2-3x the rate. I highly suggest seeking out an international market. We have also found the dates are fresher since the demand is greater (aka they don’t sit on the shelf as long).
4. Homemade Energy Bites are really easy to put together and there are a lot of recipes online. I do have some of my favorites for runs such as this one that I stash in a small snack-sized baggie and clip to the inside of my running shorts. These require chewing while running which some people can take and some can’t – it depends on what you prefer…
5. Energy Gels for during the run can be very beneficial. I have purchased a few in the past but I found that most are not vegan. So, I tend to either make my own versions via recipes from The Thrive by Brendan Brazier (a former professional Ironman Triathlete). These usually contain either chia seeds or more dates. It all depends on what your body can take while running. You might have to do some trial runs with different types of energy gels/blocks/beans/etc. These can be clipped to the inner part of your shorts or placed into the ‘key holder’ of your running shorts (if applicable).
6. Watermelon is my #1 go-to fruit in the summer. Our body is more than 70% water already so when we run in high heat we sweat a lot of it out. Hence, it’s good to replenish the water in your body with natural foods that not only contain a bit of sugar but also a bit of water. Watermelon can simply be taken along for the ride to your running destination and split in two or you can place some in a container and go at it once you are back home. In some countries it is a tradition to toss a watermelon on the ground and share the pieces with people. So if you have a watermelon and you see me, let’s practice this tradition together.
7. Shady destinations for running are the best source of protection for dehydration during a run. I do notice, even on hot days, I feel much more hydrated running in a shaded area than a high sun area. This may not always be possible but if it is- go for it! We like to find nice residential areas whose houses contain perfect looking grass yards. Then we run on a hot day through all the sprinkler systems – it’s very refreshing. As long as you don’t run on their grass, most homeowners will just laugh at you instead of yell.
8. Eat well balanced meals throughout the day so your body can properly digest the food and maintain the nutrients in your system. This actually is simple but many runners do forget to eat healthy throughout the day. Try to eat more fruit and vegetables as these contain more water content than highly cooked animal meat. I’m not saying you must all become vegan (although it would be nice); I’d never tell you what is best for your body. But the more natural, organic produce that you put into your body the better since it will put more water in your system. Whatever diet you are on, just make sure you eat enough food. So many people are trying to diet and learn to run in the heat but trust me, it’s not a pretty sight when you are laying on the sidewalk passed out.
9. Sunscreen really is important to your body not only for keeping harmful sunrays from your skin but it also helps you sweat properly. Sounds strange I know but your skin pushes out more moisture when you have sunscreen on instead of when you don’t. Don’t trust me, try it out and you will see what I mean. If you are like me and want a tan so normally frown upon lotion – you will still get tanned even if you put on sunscreen.
10. Reduce your workouts, such as mileage or otherwise go inside and introduce your running shoes to the treadmill. Right now we are following a training program but on intensely hot days with 100% humidity we do go inside for a workout. Thankfully we do have a gym membership but beforehand we had to skip days of workout. It’s better to do a workout inside the house instead of passing out do to the heat. We’ve had hot days running outside but we make sure we reduce the mileage or intensity. Seriously hot, humid days are not the best for interval training, unless you are a professional and have a doctor’s go-ahead.