Embracing the elements when they don’t love you back

Not too long ago, I wrote about the importance – and the joy – of embracing the elements.

If I remember correctly, cold, wind and rain all factored in to the thoughts I had on that subject. It was about accepting the harshness of the elements and learning to soak in the uniqueness of the moment outdoors. Those are the times when nature reveals herself in new ways that few get to see because they’re too busy scurrying inside to escape those things that are, by conventional standards, miserable conditions.

I like running in the cold. I dig the ambiance of the world when it rains. And facing into the teeth of the wind on a run or a climb is just the kind of challenge that gets my blood pumping.

But there are times when you embrace the elements and they don’t love you back. Now seems to be that time.

It’s hot here in Tulsa. Real hot. Temps have been creeping up steadily into the 90s for the past few weeks, but now we’re headlong into the 100s, and the century mark looks like it’s here to stay. Last summer was a record-setter for Oklahoma – depending where you live, you saw anywhere from 40 to 60 100-degree days between late June and mid-September in Oklahoma.

It appears we’re on the same path this summer, perhaps even worse.

Running and training in this heat just saps me. It put a serious dent in my training last year, holding back my miles and short-circuiting my performance in the high country. I’m determined not to let that happen again.

My goal is to be more deliberate about hydration. To get outside and acclimate to the heat. And to be smart, not stubborn, about it.

My thinking is this: I want to improve my endurance and trim pounds. I want to take inspiration from the Tarahumara, the Kenyans and the Badwater veterans who train in the heat and overcome it daily.

This summer may not love me. Or maybe it will be a tough love. But I won’t shrink from it. The gauntlet has been thrown, and I accept.

I will embrace the elements, even if they don’t want to show me any love.

How are you dealing with the heat? What steps are you taking to train successfully when the temperatures top 100+? Send me your ideas and tips!

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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6 thoughts on “Embracing the elements when they don’t love you back

  1. I have a lot of experience running and hiking in extreme heat. Last year, I would hike and run in 115+ degree weather with no issues. You just find yourself planning around the sun. It’s mostly about the sun’s position in the sky, you don’t want to be out when it’s bearing down on you and there seems to be no escape.

    We would plan hikes for the late afternoon, and do circuits that put our backs to the sun and take us in to shaded canyons. I would also plan my runs for after dark, trail or road, it’s so much easier to run in hot conditions when the sun isn’t up.

    The other way is to run early, but I’m not an early runner. Never have been…my body needs time to loosen up in the morning.

    Hydration is important, but hydration aside…these extreme temperatures are an exposure issue. Reduce exposure, create shade, create evaporation and DON’T over do it. There’s nothing macho about being found face down on the asphalt with your skin melting in to the surface of the road.

    Run Happy!

  2. I feel your pain. I’m trying to plan my bike rides in the evening as close to sunset as I can without riding in the dark. I wear a 100 oz. Camelbak with 2 20 oz bottle of water for backup. I know it’s overkill but I never want to be 10 miles from the truck and find out I ran dry. I rode all last summer with no issues but there were many times I’d went through that whole 100 ounces and then some before I got home. Stay safe and try to stay cool.

    • I think I may start taking a Camelbak with me on my trail runs or long runs. I hate the idea of having something strapped to my back when I run, but it’s an awful feeling to be halfway through a longer or tougher run (like hill training) and get totally sapped by dehydration.

      Good advice, man. Ride strong, train strong and thanks for the word!

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