Beating The Heat

To survive the dog days of summer, I’m doing a lot of shorter runs.

Summer is well and truly upon us. Parts of the country have experienced soaring temperatures and the sweltering conditions are just one more obstacle us marathon runners have to hurdle to get to the starting line on a crisp autumn morning.

But putting in the kilometres under such conditions is no easy feat. Dehydration, fatigue and sunburn are all real threats. So I’ve taken a different approach to keeping my mileage up (and beating the heat): a lot of short runs.

Last week, I managed to hit 145 kilometres, but to get there I ran 13 times with no single run being longer than 16 kilometres. In fact, one day I ran the same 10K loop three times. The temperature was 24 degrees Celsius in the morning, 30 degrees at lunch time and 35 degrees in the late afternoon!

One advantage to keeping the runs short is that I don’t have to lug along any water. Once I’m done suffering, I head straight for the fridge and guzzle a Gatorade…or two!

The downside to running so frequently, however, is that soggy laundry piles up quickly. But, for that too, I have a solution: jump in the shower with your clothes on. I’ve been doing this for years. I take my Gatorade to the bath fully dressed and rinse out my shorts and shirt (if I bothered to wear one, which lately I have not). An unfortunate side effect is that my small apartment has wet shorts drip-drying all over the place.

This next part I probably shouldn’t be admitting in a public forum, but I often wear those same clothes another time or two before heading to the laundromat. Nasty, I know. But I run alone in the morning so offend only myself.

The lone exception to that routine this past week was after a 15K run on an 30-degree day, with 75 per cent humidity. I was soaked through and through. It looked like I’d just climbed out of a lake. The thing is, I was wearing relatively lightweight clothing – a North Face Better Than Naked tee and Brooks Sherpa shorts – that typically remain drier than other, thicker fabrics I own. This time, I rushed inside and stripped in my kitchen, throwing my shorts, shirt, and socks all into a mixing bowl, and weighed the whole mess on a kitchen scale. I was curious to see just how much water these clothes had soaked up. A couple days later, when everything was completely dry, I weighed it all again and calculated the difference.

438 grams!

I was sloshing around with nearly 500g of water in my clothes (and even more covering every inch of skin and leaking into my shoes).

To put that in perspective, a pint of water weighs just over 500g. So I could have filled up a standard beer glass with all the water in my clothes. Ewwww.

Now just imagine the result had I been wearing a cotton shirt, the kind that loves to absorb water. Instead, I’ve given up the shirt entirely. But I’m going to stick with lots of short runs and cold showers.


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