It's Hot Out ... Do I Have to Run?

Tricks to get you out the door in the summer heat.

It's 8:30 a.m., already 77 degrees, and the humidity is choking. You know this, because you're sitting on your front stoop, running shoes laced up, while a debate wages silently in your head:

"This will stink, just wait a few more minutes."

"Go! Each minute you wait, the temperature climbs higher."

"Eh, I don't know. It's pretty hot out. Why not give yourself a break and do something else?"

Oh summer running, how daunting you can be.

Fortunately, I've developed a few tricks to convince myself to get up off that stoop and take that first - and most difficult - step of a summer run:

1. I have a loop that begins and ends at the Rita's Italian Ice on U.S. Route 1 in College Park. When the going gets tough, think about that passion fruit gelati at the end. There's parking behind Rita's on Metzerott Road. (Just make sure you finish the run before dusk, otherwise they'll ticket. I finished a run one evening to find a police officer shining his light on my car.) The run itself is a nice mix of paved trails along the Anacostia Tributary Trail System and sidewalks. There's a good bit of shade and a drinking fountain at the beginning and the end. Here's a map for the loop, dubbed "Rita's Loop."

2. I have discovered the best post-run-I'm-about-to-keel-over snack (that is, when Rita's Italian Ice isn't on hand): frozen grapes and ice water with lemon juice. Please, eat more than grapes and water after a run to replenish your energy, but this little appetizer is very refreshing after a run in the heat.

3. Of course, you could just avoid the heat altogether: wake up earlier than 8:30 a.m. I know the pain of a 5 a.m. alarm, and I rarely convince myself to roll out so early, but try planning a morning run with a friend you know won't bail on you. (And make sure you don't bail, either!) Not only will the obligation make you more inclined to get that run in early, a running buddy will help keep your mind off the heat, humidity, that tight hamstring, those rock heavy feet...

While I'm listing tips for motivating in the summer heat, it's worth mentioning safety. Please drink lots of water. Active.com suggests drinking six to eight ounces of a sports drink or water every two hours on a hot day. Don't feel guilty about taking breaks during a run at a drinking fountain. If you have to, ask someone watering a garden to hose you off, or stop in a restaurant and ask them for a cup of water. (Call me shameless, but I've done both of these.)

Have some summer running (or biking, walking, roller blading, etc.) tips of your own? What gets you out the door in the warm weather? Please share in the comments below.

Shannon is a 10-year runner training for her first marathon and dabbling with with a running column.

SF July 10, 2011 at 12:12 AM
For those days when I don't get out early enough, I hit the perimeter trail at greenbelt park. It is shaded and the workout is much better than the paved trails in the area.
Katie Zafft July 10, 2011 at 01:08 AM
I also do that on occasion. However, the ticks are out in full force in that park.
Katie Zafft July 10, 2011 at 01:11 AM
I just started using a water belt this summer. I'm training for the Baltimore Marathon and have to do some long runs. I thought the sloshing would be annoying at first (not to mention it's not the most fashionable belt in the world) but I'm thankful to have the extra water.
Shannon Hoffman July 10, 2011 at 02:39 PM
SF, Thanks a lot for the tips. I also run on the perimeter trail at Greenbelt Park. I haven't gone the whole way around yet. Do you know about how far perimeter is? Katie, I've considered getting something like that once I'm into my longer runs as well. Did you think about getting a CamelBak? (http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Packs.aspx) They are even less fashionable, borderline dorky. But I'm thinking about it....
Kip H July 10, 2011 at 03:21 PM
on my long hot runs, i stash a couple dollars in my shorts and stop mid run at a gas station or ice cream shop for some water or sports drink. i feel a bit sorry for the attendants who have to take my sweaty dollars and it is difficult not getting an ice cream cone instead of water...but another 8 miles or so with ice cream would be a challenge.
Katie Zafft July 10, 2011 at 08:57 PM
I have thought about it - but I opted for the belt because I feel like having a backpack on would make me too hot. Also, it's nearly impossible to squirt water over your head (if needed) with one of those things, let alone refill it on the fly. Plus, I like having a choice between water and gatorade so the little water bottles on my belt work better for that.
Katie Zafft July 10, 2011 at 11:37 PM
The perimeter trail is 5.3 miles around. The mile markers are helpful but there's some confusion at the end because there is a handmade sign that differs from the official signage. I love that run (when I forget about the ticks).
Henry July 11, 2011 at 05:03 AM
wow I've seen your path for running and that seems impossible through my eyes.. how the hell can you finish that entire trail within the day..? I mean for me I would need 2 days just to finish that trail.... how do keep up the momentum of jogging.
Shannon Hoffman July 11, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Henry, it takes some working up to. If working up to that distance is something you want to do, starting at a mile or two for a week or two is a great way to start. Plus, with this loop there are plenty of opportunities to cut it shorter if you're just not feeling it that day. You could even just run a short way out the path toward Cherry Hill Road and turn back - and you'll still get to finish at Rita's. : ) Kip H - Thanks for the tip. I guess I should start carrying cash with me. Even if it's sweaty, it's a little classier than asking for a free glass of water.
Henry July 11, 2011 at 02:41 PM
wait.... is it better to run/jog in a loop of a park or on the road/side walk...
Shannon Hoffman July 11, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Well, I can't really talk from a medical or physical therapy perspective, only from my own running experience, and what I learned from passed coaches. Typically, it's better to run on soft terrain. I think that you recover more quickly for the next run and it's easier on the joints and legs. However, there are situations when I've found running on paved surfaces to be better. There are some injuries that I've had that became more aggravated by running on uneven surfaces. Most important thing is to listen to your body. Know that if you run on unpaved trails, expect to run slower. The uneven surfaces are less efficient. If you run on roads for a while and become used to that, and then switch to trails you'll notice a big difference. In the case of the loop I have mapped out, though, I believe all the trails are actually paved. I know it's paved around Lake Artemesia. If you head out to Greenbelt Park though, that's pretty rugged terrain. Do you run casually? Are you thinking of giving it a try?
Henry July 11, 2011 at 08:46 PM
I've been doing my running/jogging at the college park communial park, bascially across from 34th ave, whenever I have time.. most likely at least 2-3 days a week I wish I could do more but trying to balance out school, work, and the time to take a shower in between... but yea I'll try on roads and see the differenence hopefully my extremely hot feet doesn't become irratating to me during my jog/run... I think I need to change my shoes.. but thanks I'll definitely try
Shannon Hoffman July 11, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Good luck!
Henry July 11, 2011 at 09:22 PM
thank you


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