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.