Training in the Heat

When you live in Florida, it is hard to avoid hot summer days. Even in the rest of the United States, the weather often becomes impossibly hot and humid during the summer months. I know a number of runners who refuse to train for fall marathon season because they dislike training in hot weather. Of course, that never stops Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics or 50 Staters! We push on regardless of climate alterations. But for newcomers to walking with a purpose (usually a race), there is no reason to stop training because of heat. There are several ways to minimize the effects of steamy summer days and keep one’s training on schedule.
Since I’m an early riser (and always have been), I get up several hours before dawn and do most of my walking before the sun comes up. Usually this means rising at 4 am to walk and feed the dog, down a cup of coffee and slice of bread, and then head out. I can easily get in 3 to 5 miles and perhaps as many as 6 miles before breakfast. The main advantage of these pre-dawn walks is cooler temperatures (60’s and low 70’s) and no sun. Another plus is the lack of traffic in my neighborhood. It seems as though most people head off to work and school between 6:30 and 7 am. That gives me a couple of hours with no gas fumes, noise, and cars and trucks to dodge. Even though I stay in my neighborhood (for safety reasons) during these early hours, traffic on these same routes during the daytime can be a major hurdle to overcome.
Another advantage of early morning walks is the opportunity to enjoy the night creatures who disappear during the daytime. I frequently run across armadillos, hares, possums, and owls, not to mention cats and dogs and the occasional coyote. I enjoy starting my day to the sound of birds singing.
If early mornings are just not possible, then walking after the sun goes down might be more reasonable. After 9 pm, the sun has disappeared in most places and there may be a cool breeze or light wind to make the heat bearable. The downside to walking in the evening for me is the increase in traffic and commotion. Even if I can manage to stay up past 9 pm, I am usually tired and the challenge of having to watch for cars and runners and bicyclists and skateboarders is a little too daunting for me. But for those who enjoy staying up at night, the camaraderie and activity of the evening hours combined with the cooler temperatures may be just the thing.
Of course, when the weather gets too problematic – storms with thunder and lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, etc. – going outside is not a good idea. That’s when I dig out my Leslie Sansone walking tapes and my old Jazzercise and Richard Simmons videos and do a few miles right in my living room. I have found that the Leslie Sansone tapes are especially useful because they have a variety of workouts that range from 1 to 5 miles; I can choose the mileage that works for the time I have or perhaps a combination of several different ones. Her walking program consists of 4 basic easy-to-follow steps: walking, knee lifts, side steps, and leg raises. She also has some arm movements to use with these steps and has recently added some light jogging as well.
And if one is truly desperate, there is always the treadmill.

4 thoughts on “Training in the Heat

  1. Ditto on the early morning approach – getting too hot here also, and it will continue through September. It is a peaceful walk at 4:30/5:00 AM, I do like that.

    • I guess I should have added rain (and hurricanes) to the difficulties of training during the summer. We had pouring rain all through the day today so I walked with an umbrella and rain slicker but still got soaked! Saw some baby frogs hopping about – that was neat.

  2. I can’t believe you admitted to using a Richard Simmons video! 🙂 Seriously, I also enjoy the morning quiet and the smell of bacon and eggs.

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