Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer in the City

Each and every summer that I have lived in the south, I am certain the heat couldn’t be as bad as I remember it.  And then by the end of June, I am melting, sticky, and red. Now there is a good visual for you.  I try to remind myself of the benefit (southern ‘winters’) and tackle my runs at a slower pace the best that I can. 
Wait, what? I parked in the shade.

To be honest, I didn’t really realize what hot & humid was until I moved to the south.  Growing up in New England, I was use to winter and a short season referred to as not winter.   Moving to Texas and then to Georgia totally redefined what hot means to me.  For those of you who have never experienced this kind of heat, I made a little scale to help you understand what I mean.  You can never truly understand it until you experience it, but here is a short explanation to help you understand what I mean when I describe the weather for my runs.
Heat Index for Southern Running by Running on E.


Let me take you through the levels of southern heat & humidity.
1.   Sunny Day: That perfect sunny day you see in commercials where people are drinking lemonade and watching little league games. This is the chupacabra of summer days in the south.  They happen once, maybe twice a summer and if you don’t make the most of it, you will surely regret it. I beg/plead/make offerings to the gods of running that it will occur on long-run days!
2.   Feels like burning:  Super sunny days that look innocent enough, but you quickly feel like you are getting a sunburn.  It's hot, but not humid. The only difference between it and higher levels, it that the shade does provide some relief.  I run the shadiest route I can find and wear all my sun-protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc).
3.   Sweaty Gym Sock:  It’s warm, it’s sticky, and sometimes it even smells funny, but it’s not so bad I can’t tolerate it.  I will still run outside, but will be soaked afterward and my face will look like a cherry.  Repeated reapplication of antiperspirant is a must.  You can’t get enough and you keep some in your purse, your desk at work, the car, etc.  Drink early and often while on the run and don't worry about pace.
4.   Sweltering Sauna: It’s hot and humid, like the bathroom after a hot shower. This is the kind of heat that makes you sweat when you are sitting still.  Like when you attempt to have cocktails on a patio, but head inside after 5 minutes because your ice has melted, your cocktail is warm, and you have already sweated through all your clothes. There is no chance of ever looking cute on these days, you just try to survive. Carry as much water as you can on your run and some electrolytes for salt replacement. Take it slow!
5.   Humid Inferno: This is just a whole different level of heat that I’ve only experience in cities like Houston and New Orleans.  It’s the kind of heat and humidity that is so oppressive, it hits you like a wall when you exit buildings and the air is so heavy with moisture you feel like you are swimming. Things have been know to spontaneously combust in this weather. It is the main reason I don’t miss living in Texas.  Hope it is a rest day.
How do you combat the heat?  What are your tricks?

6 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to try the slushie trick...downing a slushie before a run or outdoor workout to keep your body cool from the beginning. And any excuse to have a slushie, of course. Has anyone ever tried the chill-its cooling towels? I've always been curious.

    Love your heat index. I plan on starting my training runs in the am, but I'm sure 6am doesn't look like a happy time for everyone.

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    1. I've never tried the towels, but I have used wet sponges before. They gave them out during the Disney Marathon and I found them super helpful. Too bad they aren't practical for everyday.

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  2. In fact, in true scientist form, here is the Pubmed link for the study...http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23329610

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  3. I try and run before it gets too hot in the day, which isn't always possible I know!

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  4. I don't like the heat. When I have visited Em in DC in the summers I have just told myself I need to deal with it and I do. But I love my state for many reasons and the colder seasons are a big part of that.

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    Replies
    1. And that is one of the many reasons I miss living in New England!

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