HEAT: the end of summer in Texas

Some thoughts and advice.

Choosing to live near Houston in the summer is akin to willingly stepping into a sauna and closing the door for six months. So, yes, by summer I mean April through October. Come visit during one of these months and tell me I’m wrong.

Living in this kind of heat makes you question your sanity and wonder if you have a secret death wish. Maybe you’re just a glutton for punishment. You’re constantly tired, hot… confused… then inside when the air conditioning hits, you shiver.

You can lose yourself to heat. This weather turns perfectly sane people into whimpering messes who fall asleep seconds after returning from the outdoors, which in itself has become an adventure of its own.

As a runner, you can imagine the impact of this.

In heat, humid heat, an easy run transforms into a long slog through thick air.

Even a jog wears you out like a small child who ate too much cotton candy too fast. False confidence gives you the energy to step into the heat, the desire to conquer and withstand it and yet- over time you fade. You emerge from beneath the shade of tree branches into the sun, the heat reflecting off sidewalks and buildings… running starts to feel like doing laps in a hot tub.

But… you’re a runner, and you get out there anyway.

When you’re out there you can run fast, hard- you’re sweating anyway- but the moment you stop the heat slams into you, like opening an oven door and sticking your head in. It rushes to your head, your throat. A craving for water crops up and expands with each tired breath.

So you can’t stop.

Summer in Texas is brutal.

Sweat will start dancing along your skin within a minute. It’s hot. Embrace it. Take sunglasses to relax the squint in your eyes, a ball cap to shade your face further. Take it easy, if you want… but if you don’t just make sure you know your limits. Don’t stop- jog if you have to, but never stop. If you stop, even for  moment the heat will slam into you like a ton of bricks.

This heat wraps itself around you, like someone trying to tuck you into bed when you already have a fever and care only about ripping every bit of fabric away from your body. With the thermostat near a hundred, though, there’s no flipping the pillow to rest your cheek on the cooler side. There’s no lessening the impact. No reprieve from the boiling air.

All that’s left to do is to welcome the scorching pavement beneath your soles as a companion, a fellow sufferer of heat. To let your hands dance through the air- how often do you get to truly feel, with your fingers and face, the texture of your breath?

I’ll ask again- how often do you truly feel your environment like this?

Heat forces you into the present. Maybe only in that you’re wishing your way out of it, but we’re finding the positive here, the light.

Embrace it.

Weather influences the way we run- the toughest weather, if you run smart, will make you smarter.

Like an oven, I say again and again, the best way to describe the onslaught of hot air. Like being inside a hot air balloon, a sauna, not like you’d expect when you suggest a breezy jog through the great outdoors.

At times like these my respect for those who participate in hot desert runs deepens.

At the end of the day, sure, you could hide from it.

You could go to the gym, blast some tunes.

You could get on the elliptical, into a pool.

But what if this is the weather on race day?

Run through it. It will make you stronger. It will make you tougher.

Recover after. Don’t run in 100 degrees every day, start early when you can. But learn to embrace the heat instead of running away from it. Suffering through it will train you to suffer in other ways on race day, and as we all know being able to make yourself suffer is often the difference between the average runner and a champion.

Heat is a balancing act. Forced patience. Mental strength.

We accept it. We know it.

This is summer in Texas.

Today I am grateful fall has begun.

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