Coach Mike Mead

July 2014

Summer Bummer Running Blues

Well, another summer has arrived and -- running-wise -- I am not enjoying it as much as I used to. In the last few years, the combination of heat and humidity has become my kryptonite. I do not remember my summer training runs feeling as sluggish or lethargic as they do in recent weeks.

I’ll concede that it is very plausible that age has something to do with it. I’m no spring chicken and I’m not the runner I was 20-30 years ago. Just like a spinning top, I am steadily slowing down! For the past month, I don’t feel like the runner I was two months ago!

I think there is more to my sluggish running than my age. I have heard younger runners comment on their challenges running in the heat and humidity, too. I believe that also contributing to my lackluster runs is a residual effect of training too much in the heat when I was younger and now paying for it anytime the temperature and humidity rises above 70-degrees or 70-percent.

I have written before that I spent four summers living and running in South Georgia. There were a few occasions during those summers that I overextended myself on a long run and perhaps experienced heat stroke or significant dehydration. Now I am paying for it when I go out on my summer runs!

I have also considered whether I am getting enough rest between my runs. Since the heat and humidity saps my energy, perhaps I need more sleep at night. Better yet, what I need is more sound sleep! I’m not talking about REM sleep and the like. What I prefer is sleeping conditions where the room temperature is cool enough for a more restful night.

I have observed that when I wake up warm and somewhat sweaty, my runs do not go so well. While the home heating and cooling experts recommend having your summer room temperature no lower than 72-degrees, I have discovered I need the temperature below 70 for a sound night’s rest. The cooler, the better!

Speaking of cool rooms, a challenge that all southern runners have these days is spending too much time in air-conditioned rooms. It is important for sleeping, but the good old AC just does not help a runner acclimate to the summer heat and humidity.

I do believe humidity is the culprit that wears me down more than the heat. I like running in the mornings because it is usually the coolest part of the day and it best fits my daily routine. I got away last month for a few days to Michigan. A few of the mornings, the weather was in the low-60’s. I thought I would see a marked improvement – less sluggish feeling – on my runs. That did not happen because the humidity was over 80-percent on those runs.

I have considered changing my running routine by going for an early evening run when it is less humid. However, the trade-off is hotter temperatures and running at the end of the day when I can feel whipped.

I have also considered my diet. Perhaps I am lacking a specific nutrient that is creating my subpar runs. If that were true, I would expect my sluggish runs to be consistent throughout the year and not specifically to the summer months.

What’s a runner to do? I will continue to monitor my training runs and the conditions I run in over the next few months. Chances are this old runner just cannot take the heat and humidity anymore and will have to come up with a different training plan until cooler weather arrives, hopefully by September. What a summer bummer!