Trust me, I am NOT complaining (after all, I waited 9 months for summer to return to Iowa). The heat does make it a bit more of a challenge to enjoy the great outdoors, though.
I make it a priority to take most of my cardio workouts outdoors. Even when the mercury is off the charts, and it's hotter than Hades, I usually shun the inside option. I figure if I'm gonna be sweating anyways, I might as well enjoy the scenery.
That said, the extreme heat of summer is nothing to take for granted. It commands all of your respect and every last ounce of common sense.
It's no secret that when it comes to fitness, my first love is running. First and foremost. I don't run every day, nor do I run especially far every time I lace up my Brooks Adrenalines. I simply enjoy the mere act of running...the sound of my feet striking the pavement, the feel of sweat running down my back (and often in my eyes), and I love the sensation of endorphins washing over me after I've finished.
The summer weather in Iowa, as with any season, is always variable and tricky. Granted, more summer runs are going to be in hot temps than cold, but there are sporadic cold fronts that come through and knock out the humidity for a few brief periods. No doubt the toughest thing for most runners to deal with in the summer isn't the heat, but the humidity. A heavy dew point will make it more difficult to breathe, especially the faster one tries to run. Even if you're wearing tech fabric running gear, if it's super humid, it will take longer than normal for the dampness to evaporate from the fabric.
A few constants with summer running:
***Everyone has their own barometer when it comes to heat tolerance. What feels warm and comfortable to me may feel extremely unbearable to someone else.
***Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more. Many people don't realize their bodies are dehydrated until it's too late (runners are stubborn that way LOL). Water and electrolytes are necessities.
***It's in your best interest to run slower than what you may be used to doing. The odds are good your body will want do that naturally, so let it. Save your tempo runs or speedwork for less extreme temps.
***Even if you're not a natural early-riser, the heat will usually be coolest before the sun emerges. If you're hoping to run a long distance, starting your run as early as possible (even in the dark) may be something to consider.
hydration is key
What about walking? Did you know walking offers very similar benefits as running does? Depending on your pace, the cardio burn can be comparable to running (though running obviously has more "bang for the buck" due to the extra effort required).
For me, the biggest benefit to walking is that it's much friendlier to my joints. The impact of your feet striking the pavement isn't as severe as with running. It will take you longer to go a specific distance, but with it requiring (somewhat) less effort, it usually won't be as tiring.
A few things to consider with summer walking:
***Since it's a lower impact activity, the need for warm-up/cool-down isn't as crucial. It's still a good idea to do some pre/post stretching, though.
***You can get a good sweat going, but you probably won't be as "warm" as you would be if you were running the same distance. Often times, I need arm sleeves or a light jacket (that I can take off and tie around my waist) if it's a cool morning or the humidity is low.
***If it's an especially hot day, and you still want to get outside, a walk may be a better option than running since it's not as strenuous.
seeking out a shaded trail may be a good option
In recent years, I have been biking more. I'm still very much a novice, but it's been a fun new fitness option to explore. I have a mountain bike, affectionately named Gustavas. It's not as sleek or road-friendly as a road bike would be, but that adds an element of challenge to my rides. The bike weighs more, and the tires are rugged. Climbing hills can be tough...but that's all good. I'm working different muscles (well, hello there, quads!) and giving my usual running muscles some down time.
Also, with biking, there's ZERO impact on my knees and ankles, so most rides feel pretty smooth (unless I hit a pothole or cross railroad tracks). Since a lot of my riding is just in town, I'm not cycling especially fast or with a lot of effort, making it a great option if I want to get out of the house but don't have a lot of energy on tap. None the less, cardio is still happening and my legs are getting some action.
Some things about biking in the summer:
***The hot temps are MUCH more bearable on a bike than on foot! Again, I think it's that "less effort required" thing.
***Even if it's a warm day, I usually feel colder on the bike. That's all well and good on a really hot day, but on the moderate mornings, I usually feel most comfortable with arm sleeves.
***No matter which direction the wind is coming from, it always feels like it's in my face. That's not all bad, though, because it does feel refreshing (most of the time).
***A strong headwind is much tougher to fight on a bike than on foot...just saying.
***Gravity will work both with you AND against you on a hill LOL
|don't forget the helmet, or your lipstick|
Anyways, those are some comparisons and contrasts to three outdoor cardio options that I have been utilizing, even in the extreme heat of summer.
How do you feel about being outside in the heat? Do you opt to stay inside, or do you find a way to get outside, no matter how hot it gets? Or, do you have no preference to be in or out?
Some of the text in this post first appeared in a previous post.
I am very much like you: I will always choose the outdoor option, regardless of the weather. The only times I used a treadmill was on business trips in India, where running outside was not safe.ReplyDelete
And I am with you on the walking/hiking and biking options! These are great alternatives in the summer. The breeze that you get on the bike makes a big difference - especially downhill, LOL!
I'm amazed how strong that breeze feels while on wheels! I walk pretty much every day, and that habit has served me well in recent years, so I'm glad I have biking in the mix as well now.Delete
I generally like to be outside in the morning (luckily my backyard is very shady), but on really hot days I stay inside in the afternoon.ReplyDelete
I've always been a big fan of walking! Biking not so much. :)
As you know, it took me many a year to get into biking. I'm still don't consider myself an expert (in any capacity) on it, but it does feel great on the legs in between running days.Delete
Love your bike shadow pic and this is a great post full of good advice. When it's a very hot summer here, I do walk-running and indeed go out pre-dawn. Best time anyway, right?!ReplyDelete
Absolutely, pre-dawn is the best! It's kind of a well-kept secret how nice it is outside at that hour, even on a hot morning.Delete
My patience and tolerance for the heat is about 5% so when it's super hot (like it has been the past few days) I just opt for indoor workouts. When I do run outside in the heat I'm very serious about proper hydration. Sometimes I think runners wait until they are thirsty to start hydrating and by then it's too late.ReplyDelete
Hydration is key to surviving the heat, and yes, we need to stay ahead of the game with it. I think this heat thing is the one thing we're not in sync with...? (but I still like you) LOLDelete
Yes yes yes that we all have different heat tolerances and I'm low on the spectrum. I would tell anyone not to get frustrated if hot weather running just isn't for you, but at the same time, the weather isn't ideal most of the year so we have to find ways to adapt. Otherwise we'd just be running in April and October. This is the first year that I've tried salt tablets (SaltStick) and that's been really helpful.ReplyDelete
I have never tried salt tablets, but have wondered if I should. I know I have a pretty high tolerance for the heat (as does Barb), and we're always surprised how strong our pace winds up being (after the fact) when it feels like we're being conservative. I totally agree with what you said about finding ways to adapt to the heat (and the cold, when that's a factor as well).Delete
I so agree with your statement that each of us have a different barometer when it comes to heat tolerance. I find I can tolerate a lot more than some of my friends. I think my body kind of got used to it as most of my runs had to be done in the late afternoons. So I guess my body kind of adjusted to that new norm? But I'm definitely a lot faster in winter... in summer I just focus on getting those runs done and on some days just forget about the pace/speed.ReplyDelete
I seem to be a lot more tolerant than the bulk of my friends as well. Barb, though, can hang right with me for any run we do ;-) I really think the main thing is to have realistic expectations...a lot of people (competitive ones especially) struggle the most because they don't like the heat "slowing" them down. I'm fine with running "slower" so long as I'm hydrated and not in any distress.Delete
It's been a hot/humid summer for sure. The issue we're dealing with here that I did not anticipate is poor air quality. One would think with less traffic etc due to the shutdown, pollution would be lighter. Guess not.ReplyDelete
That is odd with the air quality. Is that a regional thing (metro area) or elsewhere, too? I haven't heard anything about it in my area, but I'm in the middle of corn fields...I could tell you all about the "farm air" on a hot (breezy) summer day ;-)Delete
While I'm so not a fan of humidity, I generally prefer to be outside so I aim for up and out early. I admit that I am really inconsistent with my hydration and sometime I pay for it :(ReplyDelete
Hydration is so tricky! For me, it really varies with how hot the temps are, and how far I'm going. Totally guessing game ;-)Delete
I can take the heat mostly if it's morning. Midday heat is not my thing, so I'll go indoors. Ironically, biking does bother one of my knees and I wear a strap which seems to help quite a bit. A ride over an hour without the strap will be troublesome!ReplyDelete
I don't mind the heat as much as a lot of people do, but I just keep my expectations low. I know to let my body (and not my ego) dictate the experience ;-)Delete
Biking is so much more enjoyable to me in the summertime. I went for a power walk today and it was over 90 by mid morning. ugh! You will never hear me complain about the cold!!!ReplyDelete
I agree, biking is a lot easier than running...but it can be a guessing game in terms of what to wear. I get warm, but I'm also cold at times LOLDelete
I've managed to keep my workouts outdoors this summer but it sure has been a hot one. I've had to skip some afternoon walks lately because its just too hot. (We usually walk around 3:00 or 4:00) I am a big fan of getting out as early as possible when I run in the morning.ReplyDelete
Yes, the early mornings are ideal!!Delete
I'm not a fan of summer running, but I do it because what is the other option? Treadmill? nope. I prefer my action to be on the water--paddling the SUP or kayak, or waterskiing. But a runner's gotta run...ReplyDelete
Milly has been in hibernation, and I plan to keep her there indefinitely ;-)Delete
I always opt outside (mostly since I don't have a treadmill :-) ). I agree with the importance of hydration. Some running might not realize that they need to keep drinking before, during and after their run. I really try and I know that I'm frequenly dehydrated even before I step out the door,ReplyDelete
Hydration is really tricky, and unique for each of us. I've gotten better about drinking before I think I need it...still a work in progress, thoughDelete
Since I've got this bum calf, I'm considering dusting off my bike for a few rides. My issues is I'm not a huge fan of road riding... but I figure if I start early enough it should be ok? Wish me luck!ReplyDelete
The earlier the better. Do you have a headlight? Not that you want to go in the dark, but even just before sunrise, a little extra light doesn't hurt.Delete
I opt outside pretty much all the time. It's disgustingly ht and humid here, but it's the south, so that's what we get. I think I've just gotten used to it over time, but I do really look forward to "winter" when we might see mornings in the 50s again :)ReplyDelete
I'd love to have temps in the 50's form my winter!Delete
I need to get my bike out for sure. I love taking walks in the summer time. So relaxing especially in the heat!ReplyDelete
Walking continues to be a favorite for me. It IS relaxing!Delete
We don't get the same humidity that you get so running in the summer is usually bearable if you get out early enough. I love riding my bike and yes it is easier to ride when it's hot because you get that breeze.ReplyDelete
I'm always amazed at how breezy it feels on the bike!Delete
I am a natural early-riser and I love summer running. When I see people running in the early afternoon when the temperatures are close to 100 degrees and the humidity is high, I worry about them, though. I have been doing a lot of shade running lately!ReplyDelete
As you know, I love summer running, too. And, I dearly love my early mornings ;-) I worry about the peeps who get out there even mid-morning...some days, that's just as bad.Delete
As much as I don't really like the heat and complain about it, I try to get outside for running as much as I can. I know it is best to get out as early as possible. With HR training I know that I need to also run slower and take more walking breaks. That is OK with me. I am being patient about it while trying to soak it all in before Winter is here and then we have snow which I really dislike.ReplyDelete
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