Hot Tips for Hot Runs

This is my eighth summer running in Washington, D.C., a city that’s nicknamed the Swamp not just for its political corruption. And as much as I annually contemplate moving to Antarctica as the humidity sets in, I’ve finally grown to tolerate summer running here. These are my top tips to make it bearable:

    1. Water. Run with it, run through it, run near it. Sprinklers, creeks, fountains, rain showers—these are all your friends. Don’t worry about getting your clothes or shoes wet; they’ll be drenched in sweat soon enough anyhow. To drink, carry water even on your shorter runs. I use a Nathan handheld water bottle, but there are belts and backpacks and all sorts of doodads. Even a cheap disposable bottle from the corner store will do. Knowing where the drinking fountains are on your route also helps—for refills or quick bursts of cold H20.

      2. Slow and Steady. Summer is not the time to worry about the numbers on your watch. Run by effort, not pace. Don’t panic if you’re slower than you’re used to. Just get out there. Pushing yourself through the heat and humidity will pay dividends when you toe the (hopefully cooler) starting line for a fall race.

        3. DO try to run at the coolest times of day, even if that means getting up at 5 a.m. You’ll thank yourself—and can always take a nap—later.

          4. DON’T, however, obsess over the forecast. I can tell you already what the temperature is going to be tomorrow: HOT. There’s no need to scrutinize your weather app to see whether it will be 75 degrees with 90 percent humidity or 80 degrees with 60 percent humidity. Either way, you’ll be warm. Just throw on some shorts and a tank, and go. Don’t psych yourself out about how much the heat and humidity will suck.

            Which leads me to my final tip: 5. Embrace the suck. No matter what precautions you take, at least some of your sauna runs will be totally miserable. Sweat (and sunscreen) will drip into your eyes. Your clothes will get completely soaked. Chafing is inevitable (bonus tip: Body Glide). Your lungs will feel like they’re working double, triple, quadruple time. You’ll want to abandon course for the nearest burst of A/C. But you won’t. And in slogging it out, you build the mental and physical toughness you need to tackle whatever goals lie ahead. That’s what makes summer running worth it.

            Abby McIntyre is the copy chief for Slate magazine.