I know some people just love to run in the summertime. Most of those people live in climates where the winters are harsh and long and the joy of running without tons of gear (things that are foreign to me like neck gaiters [I thought they were actually neck gators, ha ha], yak trax, fancy gloves and fleecy hats) is well worth the extra sweat that comes with running in the hot summer sun.
Yeah, that’s not me. I live in Florida. Where summer lasts from March through October… And it is relentless. By September, I’m just resigned to the fact that cool breezes are an urban legend, told to keep Floridians from all moving to Vermont. And while Florida summers have some positive things like the beach, the springs and the swimming pool (notice the aquatic theme?), there is absolutely nothing good about having to train for races during the summer for this runner.
Because I can’t afford to summer in the Pacific Northwest, I have found a few ways to adapt to the eight months of running misery. Here are my best Floridian tips:
- Accept that you’ll be slower. Galloway has a chart showing various adjustments for the heat. He suggests slowing down 30 seconds per mile for every 5 degrees over 60 degrees F. I’m not sure that I am totally on board with that much of a slow down (2-3 minutes per mile slower for almost all summer runs here) but the concept is valid. I’m always frustrated with my speed at the start of summer and amazed at how easy it is to run faster on that first cool October (or November, sigh) run.
- Dress for the weather. For me that means loose fitting tanks (in a light color!) and sparkleskirts. I rarely wear compression socks in the summer and I always wear a Bondiband to soak up the vast amounts of sweat pouring down my forehead. Ugh.
- Hydrate! It’s always important to stay hydrated, but running in summer temps takes it from a good idea to a critical necessity! Make sure to drink some electrolytes too. I like Cocogo, but others swear by Nuun or even plain old-school Gatorade. And remember that hydrating the day before you run and re-hydrating after the run is just as important as during your run.
- Avoid the sun. I don’t run in the dark (see here for my rational and irrational reasons why), but I do like to get out there just at the sun starts rising during the summer. If I can’t manage that, I seek out a shady run. Luckily, my neighborhood has lots of trees, so I don’t have to search far. It’s amazing how much of a difference shade makes in my heat tolerance during summer runs.
- Wear sunscreen. If you can’t avoid the sun, make sure to lather on some sunscreen. You know why! Here’s a reminder…
- Avoid the bugs. This may not impact everyone, or you may have your own bug nemesis, but yellow fly season here starts in May and ends in June. Those nasty devils love me. So do mosquitoes and fleas (I joke that if vampires actually existed, I’d know by now since bloodsuckers apparently think my blood is Sookie Stackhouse good). But yellow flies hunt me down, fly at about 500 mph (not a scientific fact), dive bomb me and can bite as they land so even smacking them doesn’t prevent me from getting bitten. And then I swell up like crazy. Is my phobia/mania coming across here? So, whatever your bug is locally, it’s probably more active in the summer. For me, I avoid the lovely shaded woodland trails that would be so refreshing and stick to more urban areas. I don’t wear the dark colors that attract yellow flies. And I occasionally get some unscheduled wind sprints in if I do get targeted by them. I’ve started running with a small bottle of Deep Woods Off in my skirt pocket just in case, but I really hate spraying that stuff all over myself and nothing less toxic helps repel them.
- Fantasize about Halloween, crisp fall breezes and the smell of crushed autumn leaves and acorns. By August, I’m over the cookouts, the beach trips and the swims in the springs and I’m just ready for the winter (we don’t get much in the way of spring and fall here). So I start keeping my eye out for the first signs. Maybe the squirrels are storing lots of food or the ants are behaving strangely. I become certain that it means an early cold snap. And I scan the store shelves for the first Halloween candy and displays as a bit of hope that one day, maybe, just maybe, running outside will be joyful and not a humid, sticky, sweaty experience.
So, I probably should move to a colder climate, but then I’d just whine and complain for the eight months of cold! Too bad we can’t all migrate like birds! But I do love the summer thunderstorms (not so much for running in though).
So, are you a summer loving runner or are you counting the months until the cool weather returns?