When I first moved to Florida from Arkansas, I felt I was ready for the heat. After all, I was a Southern girl. How bad could it be?
One of my first mornings in my new home state, I laced up my shoes and went for a run. Within a few minutes, the spring in my step had turned to a more zombie-like faltering gait and my skin was swimming in rivers of sweat. I tried to wipe the salty fluid from my eyes to see, but my shirt was soaked like I had just stepped out of a fully-clothed shower experience. I stumbled back to the hotel, half blind, sunburnt, and humbled. Welcome to the sun-scorched… I mean Sunshine State!
Thankfully, things were so bad, they could only get better. I adapted to living and running in Florida. I even trained and ran my first marathon at Disney. Along the way, I picked up some great tips on how to deal with the humid heat of summer.
1. Stay hydrated
It may seem so simple, yet few of us actually do it. I would make it a point to drink plenty of water and sports drinks that replenished the electrolytes lost in sweating profuse amounts. Drink until your urine is clear.
When I ran more than one hour, I would often freeze water or sports drinks and put them under my car in the driveway. I always trained with a water bottle in hand, so I just structured my route to swing by my car every 30 minutes to pick up a new cold bottle.
While no one likes to sweat, I can assure you that the alternative of overheating is far worse! Also, staying hydrated helps you feel more energetic. Who couldn't use that on a hot day?
2. Time outdoor activities
If you want to go for a leisurely stroll with your dog, work in the garden, or get an invigorating bike ride, don't do it during the heat of the day. I would often get my runs in during the pre-dawn hours. Finishing up a workout to the sunrise while listening to great tunes and running past my neighbor's intoxicating gardena bushes was a great way to start the day. When I knew the area was safe and well lit, I would also run in the late evening or night hours. I had to dodge a few raccoons and possums, but it was worth it not to melt.
3. Wear sunscreen
I found that when I had to train in the sun, wearing sunscreen actually made a huge difference in my core body temperature. If I wore it, I could handle the heat better. If I didn't, I felt hotter during the run and looked like a lobster with a fabulous tee-shirt tan when I got back home.
4. Wear the right clothing
Not only did I run in the Florida heat, I was also a sales rep and spent my days driving and walking into doctor's offices all day. For work, I chose light colors and breathable fabrics, flowing skirts, and loose fits whenever possible. When I ran, I chose specific sports shirts made from dry fit materials specifically manufactured to keep you cool. I steered clear of cotton or wool. The tighter, darker, and heavier my clothes were, the hotter I felt. I wore sunglasses or hats to protect my eyes, which served the dual purpose of keeping me from squinting and achieving the cool factor.
5. Get creative
I always looked for creative ways to beat the heat. I would frequently run through my neighbor's sprinkler when I trained. Sometimes, I took advantage of a nice person washing their car and asked them to give me a dousing with the hose. For times where you stay outside but aren't moving, keep hand fans or water spritzers close. Bring along umbrellas for instant shade. Seek out trees to shield out the sun or breezy areas for ventilation. There are also products you can leave in your freezer and then tie to various parts of your body (neck, back, wrist, and head) to keep cool. And, nothing beats the occasional ice cream cone or trip to the ocean surf to drop the body temperature.
You live in Florida. Take advantage of it!
The sun is intense in Florida. But, with proper planning, you don't have to wither. Don't hide away in your AC, get out and enjoy your state! You can still experience the amazing beauty and sunshine of paradise in comfort with just a bit of creativity! After all, where else can you get this much free Vitamin D?