Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letter to the Summer Runner

“The sun is hot.” Those were the words of welcome and wisdom my husband and I were greeted with upon our arrival to our Mexican honeymoon by our friendly guide. I also like to think of it as a kind of memento by which to remember our honeymoon, because the sun sure is hot here in Memphis, too. This is reality though, and it’s a lot less enjoyable when you’re not on a beach.

The sun is more than just hot when it comes to summer running and workouts. It can be incredibly dangerous, as well. I tried to write this article without sounding too much like your mother, but there's no way around it. But from one summer runner to another, there are a few facts I feel obligated to share, because like your mother, I care about my fellow summer runners.

Last summer Janell and I trained together through the summer in the heat and humidity of the South. We quickly learned to listen to and read our bodies in new and important ways. Janell also has smelled me at my worst. A true summer running partner knows better than to run behind her partner in the summer. Side by side running and (selfishly) an upwind position from your partner can bring some relief, when there is none to be found anywhere else.

Hydration and the Pee Test

“Hydrate like it’s your job,” is the best advice I can give you. Drink more water than you think you need, especially if you are running in humidity. One very easy way to know if you’re getting enough fluids is by checking your pee color. If you can’t tell that you even went to the bathroom (clear pee), you’re hydrated. The darker and smellier pee you have, the less water you have in your body. And take it from someone who got kidney stones from not getting proper fluids last summer, you want to make drinking water your job much more than you want to start passing rocks through your body.

Also, keep in mind that your body probably won’t adapt to heat and humidity right away. Pace yourself. Heat does take it’s toll. Allow your body time to adjust to the change in weather. Just like your lungs have to get used to the cold air in the winter, your body has to adjust to the summer heat. You loose most of your body heat through your head, so try to leave it uncovered when you run. Shirts made of wicking material can cool you off more quickly, as they absorb sweat off of your body.

Don’t be like me, be smart. Somehow I think that because I’ll be running or moving, the sun can’t catch me. Wear sunscreen if you’re going on a longer run, because remember, “the sun is hot.”

I don’t think it’s true for everyone, but my diet definitely changes with the weather. I eat much lighter and cooler meals as the temperature rises. The last thing I’m usually craving is a hot or heavy dish to sweat over. If you’re like me and choose to eat lighter, do pay attention that you’re getting enough protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Dips with beans or guacamole; a colorful salad with some chicken or ham; or bananas, apples and peanut butter are all great combinations to get proper nutrition without breaking a sweat.

We will continue our conversation Thursday on summer running, being overheated and why being the hottest isn't always best. 

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