Coach Mike Mead

July 2012

Be cool about Summer Morning Runs

Well, here it is another July! As I scrolled through the list of my past columns on this web site, I noticed two things. First, many of my previous columns during July or August have dealt with running in the heat and humidity. Second, I’ve now been cranking out these Run Georgia columns for 10 years!

During that 10-year period, I’m sure that some of my topics have gotten redundant. I’m not one to “beat a dead horse,” especially in this summer heat because who could stand the stench? Seriously, running in the kinds of summer weather that are typical of Georgia from mid-June to mid-September, some individuals may run in conditions that can turn deadly.

It’s hot! It’s humid! What is a runner to do to cope in the heat?

If you have read enough of my columns the past few years (if not, “click” on to Coach Mead on this web site where you can find my previous 109 columns!) you know I like running in the mornings.

During my formative running years, I ran in the evenings during the summer. That is, summer in Michigan. It wasn’t until my college years that I began running in the mornings because “two-a-days” were expected of you if one intended to further develop as a competitive collegiate runner. I was competitive. I wanted to get better and faster, so I ran mornings and evenings.

When I settled down in Georgia after my college days, I had to shift my running to most mornings because of work schedules and the heat. It wasn’t until I moved to Americus, where I spent almost four summers of running, that I had to become a morning runner in the summer. I’d get up and out by 6 a.m. most summer mornings to beat the heat and the gnats.

As I become a wise, old sage -- emphasis on old – it just makes sense to run at the coolest times of the day. It’s one thing if you’re a sprinter or short distance runner. You don’t race that far and many don’t run that far.

If you profess to be a DISTANCE runner, you’re going to be out for at least an hour on most runs. I’ve found that about 55-degree temperatures are ideal for distance runners. One can run for an hour and not feel beat down or drained. Jack those temperatures above 70-degrees, throw in 80-90 percent humidity and watch out!

It’s been said that “speed kills” when it comes to running. However, when it’s hot, heat kills speed. If you’re intent on running in hot weather, you have to back off on the speed.

Whether we run or not, you should know about drinking plenty of fluids on hot days is vital, as is wearing light-colored clothes and staying out of the direct sun during the hottest times of the day. Don’t get stupid just because you run and think you may be invincible and conditioned to the heat. It’s the combination of heat and humidity that can be dangerous. I’ve seen high-level, well-conditioned and well-acclimated runners fall out from temps in the 70’s, but humidity in the upper 80’s.

Be wise. Be safe. Be cool. Run cool.

Live to run another day!