I think most of us would agree that there is nothing more frustrating or even demoralizing than humidity. This time of year it seems to hit most of us and unfortunately, it is one of the biggest factors that impacts our running in a negative way. Humidity leads to decreased paces, profuse sweating, light headed sensations, and overall horrible running experiences. I have been known to get frustrated on the first humid days of summer and even end up crying. I always get upset with myself and cannot understand why I am running so slowly or why my body can barely handle just one mile.
Unfortunately, when it comes to humidity there is not a lot you can do to really combat it. But the good news is that your body will get used to it over time and handle the conditions better.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your running in humidity a bit more tolerable:
Slow down and just go with it. The humidity slows us down no matter how hard we try to push through. If you fight it, you will lose. The best way to endure these conditions is to just slow down and go with the flow. If you typically run an 8:00min/mile you might have to slow down to a 9:00min/mile or even 10:00min/mile. Don’t let this get you down. It won’t slow your pace in the long haul, but it will allow you to get your planned mileage in. Remember that if you slow down now and get your mileage in your body will adjust and soon be able to handle these conditions better. Be patient with your body.
Hydrate. There’s no way around it and you should be hydrating a lot more during the summer months anyway. Make sure you get plenty of water in before, during, and especially after each run. You will sweat a lot more in this weather so you will need the extra water to keep you going. If you forget to hydrate afterwards you risk illness, cramps, and a terrible training session the next day. If water isn’t your jam try adding some fruit like lemons, berries or cucumber to your water for a little added flavor. Sparkling water is one of my favorite ways to get liquids back in me after a run. Sports drinks like Gatorade are also great for adding electrolytes back in but they are also laden with sugars. Go ahead and have some but remember that there is no better replacement than good old fashioned water.
Embrace the wind. I am one of the biggest gripers when it comes to wind. Remember that time I was in Florida and I had my dad drive me 7 miles out so that I could run home with the wind? Exactly!
But when the humidity rolls in the wind can be your friend. A few weeks ago we had a large group of runners do the Chicago Spring 13.1. It was a super muggy day and for the first half of the out and back race we were against the wind. Everyone was really looking forward to turning around and having the wind help them on the way home. It came as no surprise to me however that everyone began struggling on the return back to the finish. On a humid day when you run with the wind you lose the cooling effects and you begin to sweat more profusely and therefore struggle more.
As I said earlier, you need to embrace the slower paces under these conditions. So go ahead and enjoy the wind at your face. It will cool you off and make the weather more tolerable. Sure you will likely run slower but didn’t we already agree that was part of the plan?
Sprinkle the salt. Normally I am not one to encourage a high sodium diet. But under these circumstances added salt will actually help you. If you are racing the next morning go ahead and have some chicken noodle soup or drink some pickle juice (yum!) the night before. Adding some salt into your diet will help you and also keep the cramping away. Odds are you will sweat out the excess salt over the course of a longer run.
When in doubt, take it indoors. If you hate the humidity or you just can’t sacrifice your pace go and hit the treadmill. Sure it isn’t ideal but if it eases your mind, there is nothing wrong with it.
How do you deal with the heat and humidity?