Summer Running in AZ Brings Distractions and Weather-Focused Anger

11 miles running andrea parker

11 warm miles later, I sprawl on a towel.

Summer is here. It reared it’s nasty, hideous head last week in the form of mid to high 90 degree temperatures that just kept rising and promise only to keep rising well past 100. I’d be lying if I said that was the first 100 degree day we’ve had here in Scottsdale, but those blazing temps have become more consistent, which means interruptions to outdoor exercise routines and the implementation of a summer approach to being outside. The dawn of Andrea being actively angry at the weather is upon us, as I can’t help but be simply pissed off that it’s so hot out and that I feel like a caged animal during these extra hot months. Plus, my electric bill doubled this month. Ugh.

Here’s a sample day from October through April:

Time Activity
6:50am Wake up, get ready for work, prepare morning hot beverages and lunch.
7:20am Kick off the golden hours of work when I experience much productivity.
12:30pm Lunch, breather from work or eat al desko.
1pm Hammer out what didn’t get done in the AM, adhere closely to my well-organized to-do list (the envy of my co-workers).
4pm Change clothes and, depending on the day, lift in work-based gym or head out for a run in Tempe on my way home.
5:45pm Arrive home, stretch (or pretend to), shower, perhaps get a massage from generous boyfriend-massage therapist.
6:45pm Start on preparing dinner, eat, then plunk self on couch for TV/work catch-up session.
10pm Attempt early bedtime.
11:15pm Finally fall asleep.

Not exactly super fun every day, but I’m focused and alert at work and I get to run afterwards when the bod’s awake and functioning optimally in a comfortable climate. Now let’s take a look at a sample day between the months of May and September:

Time Activity
6:25am Get out of bed and desperately try to wake up with tea while attempting to comprehend that morning’s headlines, followed by some activation exercises.
7am Struggle out the door for a run that ranges between 6 and 9 miles and curse the heat for the duration of the run.
8:30am Depart for work after rushing all necessary post run activities. Attempt to stop sweating post shower (#runnerproblems).
8:50am Arrive at work with a mild feeling of panic due to not being there before all co-workers arrive. Attempt to settle into a work groove amid distractions like cheers from the sales department (not a bad problem to have, though!).
11:30am Out of curiosity, poke around and ask co-workers what they’re up to for lunch. Get back to semi-focused, kinda productive working.
12:30pm Eat an odd mixture of food from my leftover packed lunches or find myself in a Chick-Fil-A, Chompie’s or Some Burros after lamenting the heat at least three times on the drive over.
1:15pm Get back to work. Try to settle into a groove that will promote focus and productivity. Take a moment to appreciate the AC.
2pm Isolate myself either in the game room or upstairs in the dream room to focus.
4:30pm Get antsy and change into workout clothes to lift with the team fitness group I lead at work.
or
5:15pm Get antsy, assess work completed and tomorrow’s work load. Depart shortly (or not too shortly) thereafter.
5:45pm Get home, sit around feeling like it’s too early to eat. Think about how hot it is and how I’d like to head out for another run but am certain  I would melt.
6:45pm Start on preparing dinner, eat, then plunk self on couch for TV/work catch-up session. Shake fist at the heat even after the sun sets.
10pm Attempt early bedtime. Toss and turn and get angry about how it’s hot even with the AC and fan on.
11:15pm Finally fall asleep… likely due to exhaustion from frustration over heat and anxiety about how I have to get up and ask my body to move pain free and efficiently in the paralyzing heat in a handful of hours.
andrea parker water running

Hydrate or die! (Seriously.)

Ok, if you had doubts that Arizona summer weather was as bad as people say or has greater ramifications than simply being hot as blazes, please tell me you’re no longer a naysayer. Until I experienced my first AZ summer, I had no idea that 1.) my attachment to running had such an impact on my daily life, productivity, focus, level of zen, sanity and general well-being and 2.) having the weather truly dictate your outdoor physical activity schedule is one of the most frustrating things for an active person. Trust me, I understand this all with respect to the bigger picture, but for running’s sake, I am simply amazed at the ramifications of the Arizona summer heat.

I’m trying- really trying- to embrace being an early morning runner, but it’s tough. After consistently rising in the 4s as a child for figure skating practice, I found myself as an anti-morning person throughout high school and part of college, that is, until I had to consistently get up for class, morning runs and eventually a job at an office. Even then I still had significant flexibility and wasn’t truly a morning person, just one who could make it out the door by 7am for work (or the precursor to training).

andrea parker pool after running

How every run should end. Like that wicked sports bra tan line?

Last year I had to be up and at ‘em at the ASU track by 5:45am so that I could be done with my warm up, drills, strides, workout, cool down, hurdle drills and stretches by 7am because it was just TOO. DAMN. HOT. We’re talking frozen towels and water bottles stationed at the 400m and 200m marks on the track so that no matter where my interval ended, I had access to cooling agents.  Even at that time of the morning, my body felt wonky and not quite willing to work as smoothly to hit times as I would have liked.

Now that doing that is no longer part of my job, I find it simply unnecessary to wake up in the 5s, but given the negative effects I experience when I’m not running or exercising (mostly running) it may very well be necessary that I find a way to force myself into being a morning exerciser. A good friend of mine told me the other day that she was called out for running being a coping mechanism for her in all things troubling in life.  I think that’s spot on. We find our peace and calm and are able to sort things out on runs. It’s a time in our days where we are alone with our thoughts and minimal distraction. It’s our therapy, so when that gets taken away  or severely switched up, it’s unsettling.

I think one of my in-the-future solutions to the heat will likely be acquiring a stationary bike (recumbent, of course, so I can read to pass the time while I get my cardio on) or a treadmill.  I actually came into work today and started looking up the cost of a good treadmill out of pure frustration. Having a Woodway in my home would be a dream come true, as I could have a great run any time of day without having to worry about the cleanliness of the machine, volume of breathing happening on the treadmill next to me, availability of the machine or worrying about cranking my sweet, sweet jams too loud.  A girl can dream, but in the meantime, I think I’m just going to have to get creative… until that one weekend in October rolls around and the heat breaks.

Sidenote: I wrote a post for treadmill.com giving actionable tips for running in the heat instead of just complaining. I’ll include the link as soon as it goes live!

Oh, yeah, don’t forget the haboobs. Who doesn’t love a dust storm whooshing towards you when you’re outside or driving, only to overtake you and fill every exposed orifice with sand?

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About parkersplash

I'm a Wolverine transplant in AZ
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