New Jersey summers can be extremely hot, humid and grueling, but that shouldn’t stop us from getting in quality miles
As June turns to July and the summer heats up in New Jersey, we have to remind ourselves that even the most prepared runner can struggle when the NJ summer humidity hits like a Muhamed Ali right hook.
Whether we’re out for a training run or trying to run a PR, there are strategies we can employ to ensure our safety, but also that we maximize the effort we put in.
For starters, and I can’t say this any clearer: running in the middle of the day, in the sweltering heat, with high humidity and laser beams shooting down from the sun is a really BAD AND DANGEROUS plan. You have to have a better plan than “I’ll just run when I can”.
Secondly, if it does happen that you must run in the middle of the day when it’s clearly hot and quite unsafe, you should make every attempt alter your gameplan – from where you run, to how far and fast, to what your expectations of the run will be.
10 Tips to Run Quality Miles During a New Jersey Summer
Below, I’ll outline what you can do to have a decent summer of running, especially if you familiar with the thick New Jersey humidity. Again, I can’t stress this enough: you should be avoiding the mid-day sun at all costs. It won’t be a good run and more importantly, it’s not safe.
The early bird definitely gets the worm. By running early, we beat the rise in early temps and we get on with our run before the day gets crazy. You’ll absolutely want to use this guide to help you if you’re not a morning runner.
Personally, I don’t like to run late in the summer, but I totally see that if you’re not a morning runner that this is your next best option. For me, it’s still too hot out, my legs never really feel great later at night, and I don’t like waiting for my lunch or snacks to digest before I run.
Run in trails
It’s shaded in trails, usually a bit cooler and a really good to get in some lateral work – the twists and turns of trails are great for the hips!
Wear light colors
Reflective colors isn’t really an option, it’s a must. Wearing dark colors absorbs the sun rays and keeps the heat in. You’ll end up feeling like you ran inside a microwave – not what I call fun!
Run loops with water
If you’re running really long or can’t run early or late, you’d best find a loop that has water. I don’t like carrying water with me, so if I’m running and I need water, I’ll do loops or run in a direction where I know there will be a water fountain or a sprinkler.
If running outside during the summer isn’t for you, that’s totally fine! There’s always the treadmill that can act as a good way to safely get in miles.
Run by effort
When it’s hot and humid out, running a specific pace (like goal marathon pace) probably isn’t going to happen. Be realistic with your expectations and modify what your run’s goal is. I always preach running by effort: what this means is that you should adjust your pace to reflect the effort you’d like to run in ideal weather.
If that means your marathon pace is 9 minute pace, you’ll want to find the appropriate effort level that matches your goal pace. Don’t worry that your watch reads 9:30, what matters is the effort feels like 9-minute pace. When the weather is substantially better, you’ll be able to hit your times and paces.
Cool your core
I’ve found that when I cool my core temperature down before I run, I often have a much better run. If I have access to a pool or a sprinkler, that’s where I’m heading before I do my warm-up drills. If I don’t, then I’ll take an ice cube and rub it over my pressure points – the inside of my wrists, the back of my neck, or the back of my knees.
If I could plaster this on every billboard in America for everyone – runners or non-runners to read, it would say: “You aren’t winning anything in the first 5 minutes.” What I mean is, when we start out fast, fast, fast, we’re not giving out body a chance to warm up, adapt to the demand, and we’re likely to cook ourselves and fizzle to a crawl. As a coach, I stress time on your feet, and when you run fast out the gate, chances are, you aren’t going to run your full run distance.
Adjust your goals
You have to be honest with yourself. Running in 90-degree heat with 90% humidity is not going to produce record-setting paces. Could you do it for 1, maybe 2 runs? Sure. But you have a better option: just log safe miles. You’ll be in shape – you’re still running, but you won’t see the fruit of your labor until the weather breaks. Then, if you’ve done your due diligence and run safely, you’ll be fit and fast, ready for fall races.
The main goal of running in the summer is to prepare for fall races. You can log most of your miles in the morning or at night and you’ll have no issues with the heat and humidity. Find loops that offer shade or water (sprinkler or a stashed water bottle) and don’t forget to adjust your goals to meet the demands of the weather. You will not be able to run each of your paced runs at the right speed in high humid weather. Adjust your effort to match the pace required of you and you’ll be fine!
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Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!
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