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Respecting the Heat on the Run–I Never Seem to Learn

Posted on May 11 2015

Heat RunI feel like I write this post every spring. In fact, I probably do. I figure that maybe if I keep writing it, one year I’ll learn to do things differently. This was not that year.

Yesterday I went for a seven mile run. Nothing too special about that, but it was the first really hot day we’ve had this year in New Hampshire. The temperature was 89 degrees Fahrenheit when I checked after the run, and it was fairly humid. After a frigidly cold winter, my northern blood was definitely unprepared for a run in these conditions.

To top things off, I didn’t bring any water. “It’s only seven miles”, I told myself. I ran eight just a few days before and had no issues.

The splits in the table at the top of the post tell the tale of this one. I went out easy for mile one, then settled into my comfortable pace by mile three. That’s about when things started to fall apart. My legs were dead, and the heat radiating up from the asphalt was getting to me. I started feeling lightheaded. It was time to walk for a bit.

The second half of the run was a walk-run slog. At times I could barely manage two minutes of running before I needed a walk break. I briefly thought about calling my wife to come pick me up. It was truly ugly.

When I got home I had goosebumps all over my skin, and my mouth way sticky and dry. My kids were in the yard splashing around in the kiddie pool – they’re much smarter than me (and I wound up in there with them after some water and a bit of recovery)!

In checking the my activity feed on Strava, I saw a few others who had similar issues to me. I saw one run posted with splits that were almost identical to mine – a dramatic slowdown in the second half of a run. Yet others seemed to handle the heat ok. I’ve always wondered if I’m particularly sensitive to heat for some reason. It seems to take me a long time to acclimate, and I always seem to have a run like this in the Spring where I feel like dying.

Some year maybe I’ll ease into Spring/Summer heat with short runs where I carry cold water. That would be the wise approach. Maybe next year I’ll get it right? Or maybe I’ll just be writing this post again next Spring. If nothing else, I hope this helps you to be smarter than me – respect the heat!

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