One of the topics everyone is talking about this summer is the heat. Even living in a city called Hotlanta has been a little warmer than usual. I also have been running quite a few races this summer, so it was crucial to find ways to stay cool while running.
Ultra marathons have always been races where I have had the most incredible learning experiences, and this summer was no exception. I ran an ultra the first and last weekend in July and I found several great ways to stay cool.
We discovered these when we were in Paris during a heat wave. They come in various sizes that you can hold in your hand or tuck away somewhere. During the ultras, I put mine in the bottom of our cooler, and when I needed to cool down I pulled the mister out of the ice, and I could spray myself with ice water. Our friends were in the tent behind us and they were struggling with the heat, so I passed them an extra Evian mister, and I heard my friend Chris say, “Whoa, this is a game changer!” She tells me that an Evian mister is always in her cooler now. You can find them in your pharmacy or on Amazon.
One of the ultras was run completely on asphalt, so it was even hotter than if we were on a trail. I had several buffs that I had intended to keep cool and wear around my neck, but I saw a woman who had used it to cover her head, and she was putting ice into the buff. My husband had brought several plastic sandwich bags that we were filling with ice and putting in our hats.
A woman told me that she takes the round cold compresses and puts them in her sports bra.
I had several towels in the cooler that I could put around my neck, or use on my face.
I developed a heat rash on the backs of my legs. We had a running coach in the tent next to us, and she asked me if I wanted her to spray my legs with bio freeze. I would never have imagined that as a cure for heat rash, but it felt amazing.
We had a cooler filled with ice, water, and an electrolyte drink. The water was ice cold, and not only did it taste amazing to drink, but it was also great to put on the back of my neck.
Those are some things that helped us stay cool physically, but we all know that staying cool mentally during a run can be just as important as the physical aspect. Have you ever run a race where your performance was affected by your ability to focus and not give up despite the circumstances? I had a situation like this last Saturday.
I race regularly with my friend Raleigh. We meet at the local grocery store and ride together. Usually, one of us sends a quick text to say something like, “Are you ready to run?” On Saturday, I did not send a text. I arrived at the grocery store and waited. Several minutes after our meeting time I texted Raleigh to see what was wrong. He texted back to say his alarm had not gone off. He made it in record time and we headed off to the race. When we turned into the park there was a long line of cars. We parked a mile away and then hurried to pick up our bibs. We had ten minutes until race time, but after 40 minutes in the car, I needed to use the bathroom even though the line was long. As I came out a man said the race had just started, so I sprinted to the start line. There were 2,000 people at the race, and I started dead last. The 2,000 people were all trying to fit on a tiny sidewalk, so to pass people I often had to run off the path in the mud and puddles. There was a woman walking with a cane, and as I passed her she swung the cane behind her and almost hit me in the knees. At one point, I thought that I should just accept that there were too many people and I had started too late, but then I decided to have fun and do my best. At mile two the crowds finally thinned a bit and I only had to dodge around people here and there. There were dogs, strollers, small children, and lots of mud and puddles, but it was fun to see everyone having fun. By some miracle, I came in first in my age group! It pays to stay cool even when things don’t look too promising.