Digital Producer

An unnatural-born runner, a pretty regular yoga doer and a lover of cookies and other sweet treats, Times digital producer Laura Lane writes about her fitness journey. Questions, training tips or race suggestions? Throw her a line on email or Twitter.

The Unnatural-born Athlete: Take it easy

The sun sets in Orland Park.

Laura Lane, The Times

How about this heat and humidity that's been slamming the Region this week?

No, I'm not trying to make small talk. It's for real been ridiculously hot outside. And humid. These last few days have essentially left the air feeling like a scorching hot thick bowl of soup, and that's never fun or easy to run in. It's not about running the fastest 5K outdoors on days like these. It's about listening to your body and taking it as slowly as necessary. Or, you know, run your 5K on a treadmill.

I'll take my chances and run outside on days like these. I loathe the dreadmill, er, treadmill that much. The only time I've used it these last three weeks is for speed training days. Only then is it tolerable because I'm constantly adjusting the speed at which I'm moving my legs. Doing that keeps me from feeling like I'm simply running in circles on a hamster wheel.

See, I'm a picky runner. If it could be partly cloudy as well as in the 50s or 60s forever and always, I'd be happy. I'll even take 40s and 70s. Maybe some drizzle on those days where it's 70 degrees and sunny skies on those days that feature a high of 40. Anything outside that range leaves me seriously contemplating my every step. And, let me tell you, that's a lot of steps even if it's just a 5K you're running. It always starts as a mental fight and then eventually my body catches up with either my lungs burning if it's too cold or sweat pouring off my overheated face if it's too hot.

Needless to say it's been a battle these last few days getting outside for my training runs. Tuesday and Wednesday (when it wasn't nearly as hot out), I pushed back my run until the sun started setting. A run at sunset is fine once in a while, but it can be a struggle if I make it a habit considering I'm up at 4 a.m. for work during the week. Today I plan to ride a stationary bike in my gym for cross training while watching "Gilmore Girls" on my tablet. Tomorrow I'll be speed training indoors on that pesky treadmill. On Sunday I'll be up bright and early to get in my 10K long run done outdoors before the heat strikes once again.

So what tips do I have if you plan to run outside on days when it's pretty much a blazing inferno? Run on a treadmill if possible. If it's not, try running in the morning or the evening when the temperatures aren't as high. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Hydrate beforehand. Hydrate during. Hydrate after. Carry that water bottle with you or buy a special belt to hold your water bottle so you can keep your hands free when you run (I personally love mine and use it all the time). Drink Gatorade or something similar to help replenish the salt you'll lose while sweating. Pay attention to your heart rate and listen to your body. That can mean you might need to take it slower than your normal pace. That's OK. When you're finished, put a cold washcloth on your neck. Nothing is quite as refreshing as that, in my opinion at least.

Whatever you do, take it easy if you're planning on going outdoors. And that's the end of my public service announcement, er, blog post for today.

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