Not another post offering tips for running in the heat

[This article also appeared on Texas Running Post]

Ahhh, summer in Texas.

This time of year, every running publication posts articles offering tips for running when it’s hot. You know, wear light-colored clothing, don’t forget a hat and sunscreen, drink lots of water, and avoid running during the heat of the day.

But when you live in a climate where summer temperatures don’t drop below 80* overnight, when exactly is “not during the heat of the day”?

The reality is there’s no advice anyone can offer to make it easier for Central Texas runners. High temps are above 90* for approximately four months of the year–either run outside and expect to suffer, or don’t. Yeah, some runners handle the heat better than others, but even the hardiest souls find themselves running a little slower or taking a few more water breaks from June to September.

I mean, what was winter this year? That one weekend in January? Hot weather is our life. But instead of complaining about it or offering trite “tips,” I challenge you to find a way to make it fun.  Reward yourself for the suffering–have something to look forward to when you’ve finished your run.

Most Saturdays, my friends and I spend as much time at the coffee shop as we did running. Towards the end of my long run, it’s the thought of coffee and tacos that gives me that last push to finish strong.

Other times, such as today, we reward ourselves with a swim. We ran around the Town Lake Trail (Zilker Park to Mopac to the pedestrian bridge and back to Zilker) then swapped running shoes for flip flops and swam at Barton Springs pool. No matter how hot I get when I run, it only takes two seconds in that cold water to drop my body temperature back to normal. Bonus: it’s like an ice bath for my muscles, without actual ice.

For as long as I can remember, early-morning lap swimmers have come here to enjoy the relative peace of Barton Springs pool. In fact, many of these folks swim here year-round. No lifeguards, no crowds, no problem. Oh and no entry fee before 8 A.M. either.

I’m not an early-bird, as a general rule. But I think sunrise on the trail is worth seeing now and then. And since you’re already out there (not running in the heat of the day, and all that) why not take in the (as yet) unspoiled magic of Barton Springs? This time of year, it’s all about the reward.

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