It is hot in Texas during summer. That may sound like a funny thing to say, especially from someone who loves the heat. I think the weather is quite nice as it hovers between the 85F and 92F mark. I find being cooped up in the air-conditioning with the windows and blinds closed quite depressing … and cold! Of late when I have been sitting in my home office working on the computer I have turned the air-conditioning off so as not to freeze in the 75F controlled climate. I shudder when I think about winter … with snow … thankfully not in Texas!
As much as I love the heat I have discovered that it is not fun to run in. I try to run of an evening before it gets dark out as I am normally tied to the kids and their activities during the day. It is less humid and normally there is a breeze so you don't feel the heat. My youngest has started nursery a few morning a week so I have been able to fit in some mid-morning runs. At this time the humidity is still in the air and the sun is beating down in its full glory. It is muggy and there is not much of a breeze. You don't need to run far or fast before your skin starts shimmering in the sunlight with drops of sweat.
I often see people out running in this heat mid-morning to midday without a water bottle (or hat or sunglasses). What are they thinking? Dehydration itself can lead to fatigue, muscle cramping and the loss of coordination. In this sort of climate heat exhaustion or heat stroke could also be on the cards. Thankfully when I have been out either running or walking the trails, or even in my car driving by I have not seen anyone keel over… yet. I am certain that although some of these people running during the hottest part will be mildly happy about the bronzing effect on their legs and arms, they will not be too happy about the onset of a headache or some cramping mid-afternoon! Never mind, nothing a Tylenol or a glass of wine won't fix!
As I am normally running distance of more than 2 miles, I make sure that I am carrying water with me. I have a trendy little water belt that hangs snugly from my hips and carries up to four 10 oz bottles of water. In this heat you need to continue to hydrate while exercising. Depending on the distance and the time of the day depends on how many bottles I carry on the belt. For example, if I am running a quick 4 mile around the block I will carry two full bottles. If I am running 6 miles with the group I will carry three bottles. Anything over 6 miles and I have four bottles. Yes it can feel heavy during the runs – especially about a third into it… but having the ability to continually rehydrate is much better than risking a dizzy spell and collapsing on the side of the road!
Here is a photo of what my 'fuel belt' looks like – it even has a pouch for me to store keys, a cell phone and some GU (energy gel) if needed!! Initially I was hesitant to use it as I thought I looked like a dofus. Also I thought I would have preferred using a camelback (water strapped on back like a backpack with a straw to drink from) for the ease of drinking. But I am glad that I went with the belt and so far it has worked well for me! The only advice I will give is to ensure that you wash the bottles after each run as they can get stinky. And, if you do wash them with detergent, ensure that you get all the detergent out of the bottles. Let me tell you from experience that sucking out the final few drops of water from a bottle after running 7 or 8 miles to find yourself sucking up detergent bubbles is not fun and rather disgusting!!