Folks, I did it. I finally bought running sunglasses. I know, I know. I should’ve done it years ago. But there’s something about hitting the road with lenses covering my eyes that I find abhorrent. After a come-to-Jesus moment where it was far too bright one summer morning, I finally gave in. The brand? Goodr Glasses of the Gods, which I purchased at Pacers Running in Alexandria.
They’ve become part of my warm-weather uniform, which includes shorts that don’t cause a rash on my inner thighs (Athleta’s Accelerate Shorties in black have been my go-to, though I’m also loving the loose-fitting, yellow-and-orange-striped New Balance iterations my friend just gifted me), a sports bra, a visor or hat (my Arizona State University ball cap has amazingly held up), some kind of bright, breezy tank (Nike’s Dri-Fit is a favorite), sunscreen (duh), Body Glide anywhere blisters may pop up (toes, underarms, those inner thighs again) and abundant bug repellent because I turn into a moveable feast this time of year. Then there’s all the sweat I inevitably collect as soon as I step out the door and into the swamp.
It’s in the summertime I regret moving away from temperate Southern California or even the desert of Phoenix; in those areas, the air is dryer and easier to move through. Here, in the capital of humidity, it feels like you’re fighting through a wet wool blanket.
That doesn’t stop me, though, and it shouldn’t stop you. If I have any advice, it’s the following: Put on some form of the outfit I described above, and don’t forget that Body Glide or bug repellent. They’ve saved me from rubbing my feet raw or coming home looking like I got in a fight with (and lost to) a swarm of mosquitoes. Always, always run with water — like with a CamelBak hydration pack — and consider freezing the reservoir the night or day before. It’ll melt while you run and feel absolutely fantastic when pressed against a hot forehead. I also try to research ahead of time where I might find drinking fountains or where I can buy another bottle if needed.
Convenience stores, coffee shops, pharmacies and food trucks on the National Mall have come in handy in other ways, too. Because humidity and high heat tend to make my blood sugar run low (I live with Type 1 diabetes), I must pack extra supplements (Clif Bloks, Honey Stingers, glucose tabs). And when I occasionally have a bad day (read: it’s way too hot) and use all of them, I can quickly find a pick-me-up in the form of apple juice or fruit snacks — not to mention a refreshing blast of air conditioning.
As for when I run in this weather? The early mornings, sometimes right before dawn. It’s far less offensive than an evening slog, when the sun has had all damn day to bake its damn rays into the pavement. In the morning, it’s still fresh out. Dewy, even. (That’s a lie, but work with me here.)
While I rely on the weather app religiously, there’s no real way to tell how the day’s temps are going to hit me until I’m on the go. One of the worst, sweatiest runs in recent times — on my birthday, no less — started out just fine. I was dressed appropriately, had a good attitude and was looking forward to the next hour-and-a-half or so. But then the temps began to rise, the humidity began to muck things up, and I started to feel every year of my newly minted age. It was terrible, and I ended up walking for a bit uphill before slowly settling back in for the remaining distance, which I reduced from 10 miles to eight to avoid putting myself in danger.
On the other hand, when the weekend that followed offered near-perfect temps, I tweaked my workout schedule from indoor sessions to outdoor jaunts, logging another 20 miles over three days on new-to-me paths. My legs took me on an uphill stretch of King Street I hadn’t yet explored as well as on the estate- and tree-lined Janneys Lane heading toward Quaker.
I know these temperate days are fleeting in the months to come, but I’ll embrace whatever comes my way. If that means I need to shorten a 5-mile trail run to three because of the heat, fine. If I need to trade an outdoor trek for an indoor strength-training sesh, I can deal. Flexibility is the name of the game this summer. Plus, that bug repellent.
Looking to stock up on your running gear? Check out Pacer’s Running in Alexandria at runpacers.com, complete with women’s and men’s apparel and gear.
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