Coach Mike Mead

August 2014

Summer Running Reprieve

Last month in this space, I bemoaned the challenges I have been experiencing the last few summers pertaining to the heat and humidity that has become my kryptonite. To support my claim that humidity is a major culprit when it comes to performance, we were blessed three times last month with unusually cooler and drier weather for July.

This year’s Peachtree Road Race saw less humidity and it stayed away for a couple of days. About 10 days later, we received another few days of unseasonably lower temperatures and humid conditions. As we closed out July, alas another couple of days reprieve from the typical July mugginess.

On these less humid days, I found that my running got a big boost! It was almost like day and night. For several of the humid days in July, I struggled on my runs. It was a different story on those drier days where I experienced three to four minute improvement on the same loops I had run on the sluggish days. I felt strong. I had good turnover. I felt like my old self!

So, my unscientific experiment verified my issues with humidity. So, what is a runner to do here in the South during the summer?

Well, you could spend the hot months in a different part of the world where humidity is limited, but that option is unrealistic. One could avoid humidity by running inside on a treadmill in a climate-controlled gym. The only downside to that option is if you want to race, you will have to wait until the fall since you have not acclimated to the humid conditions you’ve been avoiding.

Actually, the simple solution is that one needs to keep on keeping on – run in the sticky stuff to allow your body to adjust to the conditions. It takes time. We runners need to learn to adapt in order to become stronger. It is not always about training harder, just smarter.

For me, I have learned that on the extremely warm, humid days I have to cut my planned runs down to a reasonable distance. Instead of that seven-miler it may have to be three or four miles. If I was planning an intensive workout, maybe it becomes an easy jaunt. If all else fails, simply take a day off on the extreme days.

Oh the weather outside can be frightful dealing with the heat and humidity in the summer, or the cold and wind of winter. The secret to consistent running is handling – or acclimating to -- extreme conditions in moderation. If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger!