This is the time of year I dread. Temperatures and humidity skyrocket, along with my heart rate with every step; simultaneously, my run paces bottom out in a depressing reverse progression from all the work I put in throughout the winter and spring.
I realized today that I work through my heat issues in a way similar to mourning the loss of a close friend.
First, I deny my impending fate. “It won’t be as bad as last year,” I think. I grew up in Louisiana. In my 30 years on this earth, I’ve spent every spring-to-summer transition in either my home state or just west of here in Texas. So I should be used to this slow decent into hell. I should have learned how to slow roast properly.
As soon as the denial fades, I plunge into my anger phase. I’m currently working through my heat-induced rage. I’m irritable, likely to snap at coworkers, and a simple check of the 10-day forecast sets my jaw on edge.
While traditional loss counseling would add in a step for bargaining, I know I can skip that one. There is nothing I can do, or trade, to delay the inevitable. Why waste my time here?
Depression, on the other hand, is a big part of working through the climate shift. I know it will be months until I can go on a run without obsessing about water stops or feel like I’m floating across the ground again, pushing harder to finish out a tempo run. And that realization will lead to sadness. I will struggle through my runs for months. Blah. Why even run then? I should just pull the covers over my head and avoid going outside until mid October.
But I won’t do that. I’ll eventually adapt slightly (I keep reading about heat acclimation but have yet to feel comfortable in anything above 80 degrees, or about the lowest temperature Louisiana reaches at nighttime in the summer). I’ll understand that, when the temperatures start to drop in the fall, the energy and bounce will return to my legs. I’ll accept my climate crucible and develop a thicker mental callous that will help me run and race better in the future.
I want to skip ahead to that point; to run hard, albeit slower, pressing ahead for my long-term goals.
But I’m not ready.
I’m still mad. Maybe next week I’ll get there. For now, I’ll stick to every shaded street I can find (my favorite in my city is displayed in the photo above) and curse the blazing sun overhead.