Monday, July 29, 2013

Running Through the Dog Days

In New England, the term "dog days of summer" refers to the hot, hazy and humid days we typically have between the Fourth of July and Labor Day. (Yes, it’s hotter, hazier and more humid elsewhere, but we often get all three at once. Plus, let’s face it, we wouldn’t be New Englanders if we weren’t complaining incessantly about the weather.)

For many, these conditions coincide with fall race training plans -- and, not coincidentally, a spike in half-full but fully nasty loads of laundry, electrolyte consumption and smothered hot dogs eaten with absolutely no guilt whatsoever.
That’s the glorified part of summer running. The tough part is getting out there in the first place. But I’m getting better.
I like cold weather running. (When cold weather returns, I’ll explain why. To do so now would just be mean.) I hate hot weather, period, whether I’m running, walking, doing yard work, or sitting two feet in front of a window air conditioner. Once I start to sweat, I can’t stop. It’s so bad that my friends, God bless them, know better than to plan events that involve long hours in the hot sun.
I hate hot weather, but I like running fast. And, as more than one person on Twitter has put it, “Suffer in the summer, fly in the fall.” Work your way through tough conditions in July and August, the saying goes, and your autumn race will seem like a walk in the park.
So I've been taking my own hot weather running advice while, at the same time, slowly overcoming my fear of the sun when it makes sense to do so. (I've found, surprisingly, that track workouts are good candidates for warm weather runs, thanks to the frequent breaks.) Each run, in turn, gets a little bit easier, and the heat affects me a bit less.
You know what? Running in the heat ain't so bad. And if it'll help me fly in the fall, even better.