Spring has sprung, and we’ve moved right in to summer rain storms. I spent the week dodging thunder showers while trying to get in the miles. Unfortunately with those rain storms comes the dreaded feeling that the air is just a warm wet blanket ready to wrap you up as soon as you step out the door: humidity.
Running in high humidity is no fun, even for somebody like me who was born and raised here in the Deep South. Take Saturday’s run for example: I had 11.5 mi on the schedule. I’m getting into the peak mileage weeks for my Tinkerbell training plan. But, even though I dodged the thunderstorms and ended up with overcast, cooler weather, I only completed 8 miles, and it took almost a half hour longer than normal. All because the humidity was close to 80%.
This article from Competitor.com does a great job of explaining why humidity sucks for runners. Basically, your body is trying to cool itself, even though the water in the air won’t allow sweat to evaporate, so it sends extra blood to your skin, meaning your muscles get less blood, and therefor less oxygen. For the same reason your digestive system has a harder time working, so you might get nauseous. And because you are sweating even more than normal, your electrolytes can get out of whack. All of this puts more stress on your heart, and your body works harder and fatigues faster.
I never quite acclimate to running in humidity, but there are some things I can do to help make it a little better than it was this weekend.
- Slow the heck down. This is not the time to try to set a PR. (Take it from me — I’ve made that mistake too). Run by feel, not by pace times. Take more walk breaks. Just make it through until fall.
- Wear as little clothing as legally possible. I won’t run in just a jog bra, but I do switch to shorts and the thinnest shirts made. Last year Nike made tanks out of this fabric and I stocked up. Yes, they are little sea through, but they are like running nearly naked, so I don’t care.
I also wear a visor instead of a hat, and I’m thinking of swapping compression sleeves for KT Tape for my #stupidshin.
- Run in the evening. This works for me because I don’t have kids and can make my own schedule. Yeah, we just got done running all those winter runs in the dark, but as the sun sinks, so does the temperature and usually humidity. During the worst of the summer, my week night runs usually start after 7 p.m.
- Ice, Ice Baby. Keep your water in the fridge or the freezer. Wet sponges and keep them in the fridge to wipe down with during a long run. If you drive to your run location, pack a little cooler with ice to keep everything cold, and to stuff down your bra in case of heat emergency (again — personal experience).
- Eat more. Put down the package of Oreos, but do remember your body is working harder, which means it is burning more calories. Sometimes I need to make an extra fuel stop, or eat a little more before my run to keep from bonking.
- Stay hydrated and watch those electrolytes. I’ve been drinking an obscene amount of water lately. Not just while I’m running or after, but all day the day before a run. I’m also adding my favorite sports tab, Nuun Hydration to my afternoon hydration schedule in addition to my handheld. On long runs I add Gu flavors that have some salt in them, like the Salted Caramel flavor. And I also keep some salt tabs handy to keep tummy troubles at bay.
Following these tips doesn’t make running in humidity suck any less, but they do keep me from feeling like I’ve been hit by a semi for a day after my run.
And on Friday, bib numbers and corral assignments were announced for Tinkerbell.
I immediately had a panic attack.
Week 5 Training:
M: 4 mi easy
T: weights & hips
1600×2 @ 13:30 w/ wu and cd 8×200 @1:17ish w/ wu & cd. For the first time, speed work actually felt good.
3 mi easy 25 min elliptical, 20 min spin bike. I just wasn’t feeling ti today.
11.5 mi 8 mi.
weights & hips – A shoulder issue this morning meant not lifting heavy things today. Like Winston the cat.