Too hot for this sh*t

The ups and downs of Summer running…

My running friends seem to fit into two camps at the moment: those who love to run in the sun, and those who flippin’ hate it.

I’ve always put myself in the latter…Summer and me do not go together well. Now I know I live in the Midlands and not the South of France, but anything over 10 degrees is too warm for me. I am built for Winter, not only thanks to the layer of hibernation blubber I cultivate all year round, but because I am a typical pasty Northern bird. In fact, everything about me would suggest I am better suited to a ‘Slanket’ than a slinky pair of running shorts. I have thighs like tree trunks that have been coated in cottage cheese, and can only comfortably push me through my training runs when firmly squeezed into full length compression tights. Come Summer I am wheezing, red eyed, prickly heat covered, bad tempered, slow and swollen. I will do anything to write off the June to September as downtime, believing that hot weather running and I do not mix. It’s funny how you can tell yourself these stories until they become truth, and forget that in fact, it isn’t that bad. You just need to switch up your tactics for the Summer.

The last couple of weeks I have ran about 20 miles in total, meaning my usual endorphin supply has run dry. I know myself well enough by now to realise if I don’t top up happy tank, then bad things will happen and the ‘black cloud’ of anxiety will be back. It is time to face my sweaty nemesis head on.

So, in the spirit of topping up the feel good vibes, I have put together a list of survival tips for those who hate to run in Summer. You can stretch your legs, feel good, and stay (metaphorically) cool.

Head for the woods

Wear a cap to help you avoid any flying critters, spray your legs with insect repellent, and get thee to the woods! Usually, it is full sun that makes running a chore. There’s nothing worse than blazing sun to get your head pounding from screwing up your eyes. Take the opportunity to find a new route to explore under a shady green canopy. It’s peaceful, pretty and perks up your Instagram grid if nothing else. It’s usually safer to run in the woods in the Summer anyway, as icy, dark conditions in Winter can be dangerous. Take friends with you and it’s wonderful. Just remember to look up and run with confidence, or you will run into a tree (trust me).

Keep a Kool Kit to hand

Find some kit bag essentials which made Summer running rewarding. As a mum of a ‘strong willed’ 5 year old, I always have to have some kind of bribe in my handbag for emergency situations (he has moved on from Haribo, to hard cash. That’s my boy). Running is no different. If you need to bribe yourself with sexy Summer kit, do it. There are all kinds of clever fabrics and materials designed to keep you feeling as fresh as can be. For me, it has to be a bright visor (looks so cute with a swishy high ponytail) and a stash of instant ice packs — KoolPak are usually quite cheap from Amazon. When you get home or in your car, crack out an ice pack and place on the back of your neck and down your back… I like to put one on my feet or ankles too. If it’s REALLY hot, I let the kid hose me down in the garden with his water pistols.

Embrace the lighter hours

An obvious one, but I’ve noticed how many runners in my Strava feed are getting up around 4.30am to run, or cramming one in after 9pm. I prefer early morning runs but, with the school run and work and bla bla bla I end up being an evening runner. I love stepping outside as Summer evenings turn to dusk. The air smells like holidays, and it’s a great way to wind down before bed. I have the most amazing sleep after a slow 5k in the evening.

Grit

As a runner, you learn to develop your own coping strategy when shit gets… more shit. Be proud of the mental strength you have developed, and remember to reach for it when conditions are unbearable. The last 6 miles of a marathon, the steepest incline of your hill reps, even in non-running situations, like getting through a brutal sports massage (I use labour breathing!), it’s a good time time to deploy your inner ice queen or king. Grit your teeth and get through it…you will never, ever regret a run.

If you really can’t get on with hot weather running…

…walk to the shop for an ice cream

When it is really insanely hot, remember it can be detrimental for you to run at all. Resolve yourself to having a weekend off — put your flip flops on (your runners feet and black toenails could do with the fresh air), get the deckchair out and crack open the ice lollies. Mine’s a Calippo.

Thanks for reading.