Humidity Killed My Tempo Run. 

Goodbye, Tempo Run.

You’ve heard it 10,000 times.

It’s not the heat! It’s the humidity!

And for 9,999 of those times, I would snort, roll my eyes and cock my head like a know-it-all 13 year old who can’t stop taking selfies.


Until today, Poodles.

Humidity killed my Tempo Run. And it would have killed me if I hadn’t pulled the plug and switched to tomorrow’s work out which was an “easy” 7 miles. And even that was a Celebrity Death Match. Nothing was easy today. Not even breathing. I should have known when I checked this morning’s weather and saw “93% Humidity” at 6am that it was going to be a Sufferfest. Shouldn’t have it been raining at that point? Shouldn’t I have crawled back into bed and not flirt with heat exhaustion? The answer was YES.

5:30am. Shuffle out of bed and immediately trip over Drunk Otis. He follows me into bathroom, sits and stares at me. I try to put in my contact lenses, blind. I drop one. It is stuck to his nose. He is wagging his tail. I grab it, rinse and pop it in. Surely I will have pink eye.

5:40am. Drink large, steaming hot cup of delicious coffee. FAIL, COLBY.  I will pay for this cup of caffeinated goodness shortly, as it proceeds to braise me from the inside out during my first mile.

5:55am. I start my Garmin and head out. 2 mile “warm up”. 8 mile tempo. 2 mile “cool down.” Shit. It’s humid.

5:57am. Why didn’t I have a goddamn iced coffee? I’m cooking.  And I’m 2 minutes into my run. I’m running at a glacial pace. What the hell? Start to think this Tempo Run might not happen. Adjust my expectations

6:05am. Am I even sweating? I may spontaneously combust. My quads give me the finger for good measure. This Tempo Run is NOT happening. FAIL, COLBY.

6:30am. I slog along. My heart thinks this is a Tempo Run. It’s confused. She’s pounding. My breathing is uneven. I’m getting a side stitch. I keep going. FAIL, COLBY.

7:00am. Home. I’m nauseous. I have a headache. My skin is tingling. I am wiped out. At least I didn’t stop, I foolishly fist pump. FAIL, COLBY.

Dumb. Totally dumb. Running in super humid temps if you are not acclimated to it, is just plain STUPID. We have had a beautiful summer here in New England. While it’s been hot, we’ve been dodging the humidity bullet. That is until this week. Hello, Mid-August! Humidity matters to a runner because it stops the release of heat from our bodies, which causes our core body temp to go up. Since the air temperature isn’t cooling us, we try to cool ourselves by sweating.  Only the sweat can’t evaporate from our skin because it’s SO DAMN HUMID. Damn you, Humidity.

And on and on it goes.
{Cue Evil Humid Heat Exhaustion Cycle.}

 Humid Lessons Learned Today: 

  • Throw time based goals out the damn window.
  • Adjust expectations.
  • Hydrate x 10.
  • Run by feel instead pace.
  • Lay off piping hot beverages prior to a hot, 93% humid run, Genius.
  • It doesn’t matter how fit, strong or fast you are, humidity can cause heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion. You are not immune.
  • Take it inside. Or minimally to a shady road or breezy shoreline if you have one.

And for those of you Fools like me, who continue to run while on the brink of heat exhaustion?

STOP. Just STOP RUNNING if you feel awful. Nauseous. Tingly. Dizzy. Just quit it. This isn’t rocket science. It’s one damn run. I am not a doctor. I am a stubborn fool who had a very rough run this morning and should have known better. Heat exhaustion. It’s real y’all.

The Age Old Question: Heat, Humidity or Frigid Temps. Which do you prefer? Have you ever had heat stroke or heat exhaustion? How about pink eye?


55 thoughts on “Humidity Killed My Tempo Run. 

  1. I totally agree. Running in the humidity sucks – plain and simple! I’ve been running less because of it this month and it is killing me, but I can’t force myself to do it. I just don’t want to die in the humidity. Running isn’t enjoyable. I guess I’d rather run in the cold, but of course in winter I’ll say the opposite is true. 🙂 At the beginning of summer I was getting chills right at the end of my runs and would slow down because I believe it means you are overheated and may pass out if you keep going. But, as I got used to the heat and humidity it stopped. Just remember: summer will be gone soon and fall is just around the corner!

    • So. Awful. This week has killed me. If you’re getting chills at the end of you run- and it’s hot with 94% humidity you should have stopped MILES AGO. I hate to say it but it happened to me 3 times this week. No Bueno. Lesson learned! I’ll take the cold any damn chance I get!! And you’re right. I hated every damn run this week. It’s just not enjoyable. Ick.

  2. I’ve had some runs like that. I just should have stopped! Thankfully my body has ways of telling me 100% nope you should not be running right now. The humidity is bad at the moment in the UK, but it’s also slightly cold which is incredibly confusing for everyone involved. One way I cope with humid runs (aside from making them an easy pace) is preparing an iced coffee and leaving it in the fridge for when I get back. It’s the shit.

    • Pippa you are a GENIUS! I should have drank mine before I started melting. Humid and cool? Huh. Now that’s some weird shit. I’m drinking my iced coffee as we speak. And heading to the gym. It’s goddamn swamp-like outside right now. 😦

  3. Frigid temps are better than heat. There’s always another layer to wear and a way to protect the body and warm the air. In heat and humidity, it doesn’t matter if one runs naked, one still suffers.

  4. Ughhhhhh I HATE HUMIDITY. On Wednesday, I went to the track. 20×400. 93% humidity. It was like a hell dimension. Today, I have a tempo run. Also 93% humidity. I’m drinking coffee in the air conditioning on my couch and contemplating just not going. Ha. Bring on the snow and cold. I’d rather brave that! At least you can breathe.

  5. I’ve been treadmilling since Monday. I don’t mind heat up into the 90s but throw in humidity over 70% and I’m a very unhappy lady. Forget this over 90% crap. And really forget trying to do anything but an easy pace. I’m a proud humidity wimp.

  6. I definitely prefer the frigid temperatures. Although I’ve gotten frostbite before from running! Gotten both pink eye and heat exhaustion as well! I really did not think that adults could get pink eye, but somehow I did!

    • Ouch! I’ve never gotten frostbite. And if I was ever to have gotten it, it would have been during a snowshoe race that Tina and I ran in Vermont where the temperature at the start was a balmy -6 degrees. That shit was cold. 🙂

  7. First off, how have you managed to avoid the humidity this long in New England?! We’ve had to suffer through 80+% humidity in the mid-atlantic region for the ENTIRE SUMMER! It’s rare (but oh so nice) when we get those good days with less than 60%. I’m not ashamed to say I’ll be the first to hit the treadmill in these conditions 🙂 Haha. Why can’t it just be nice like fall all year round??

    • I have NO IDEA how we dodged it. We had several days of oppressive humidity. But that was it. So unusual. This week was a beast. But it’s August so it’s not that shocking. I too, confess to treadmilling it. And I hate that damn thing so you know it’s gotta be bad!!! I vote for fall—ALL YEAR!!!! 🙂

  8. Very timely. It was only 68° this morning (which is unusually cool for us this time of year) but 97% humidity. 97%!!! And it wasn’t raining! Humidity is the worst. Most of our summer runs at 6:00am will be between 75-85° and 70-88% humidity. Those are some tough training conditions–and we all hate summer running. It’s our equivalent of a Michigan winter!

    • Angela I don’t know how you do it. 75 degrees and 98% humidity is the deal today. How on earth that is possible is beyond me. It sure is tough. But just think how strong you are!! As much as I hate it, if we had it (heaven forbid) more consistently, you’d have no choice but to get used to it. This one week humid fest is THE PITS. Eek!

      • It gets really tough at the end of summer. It just wears you down. We tell ourselves how strong it’s making us, and how fast we’re going to be when it gets cool again, and we accept that we really don’t have a choice. I try not to think about it–or I’d never get out of bed in the mornings! But the end of summer it is hard to keep the momentum going. Especially when it’s been an unusually humid summer, like this one.

      • I give you so much credit. Admittedly, I felt that way towards the end of winter – bitter cold and feet of snow. I was giving up. I admire you for sticking to it. It sucked the life out of me this week.

  9. I’d rather run in a freakin tornado than the humidity! I’m glad you survived. Also, I did have pink eye in college and that SUCKED!!! It hurts SO BAD putting the eye drops in! Sometimes “kid illnesses” are 10x worse as an adult.. like pink eye, bee stings, and strep throat.

  10. I ran that same exact morning in the same exact conditions (93% humidity) and got very similar results. Thought I was just the world’s lamest runner. Hey do I forget this crucial element ever damn time?!?!! My 12 mile midweek run turned into an 8 miles slog/walk. None of my gear was cooperating and for some unknown reason, there was an epic amount of spider webs on the trail that morning. It was like the universe was telling me to give up and go home. I really should’ve listened. Could’ve used a good ole fashioned unplanned rest day for a change! Way to persevere and make the most of a bad run, Colby. You are my hero! xoxo

    • Ok. I would have packed it in from the spider webs, let alone the oppressive humidity. I’m impressed! I also miss my trails. 😦 I’ve been a roadie lately. Here’s to being the Lamest Runners in the World! Only because we should have snatched up that unplanned rest day, and not because we slogged through that crap. CHEERS! 🙂

  11. What do I like? I like New York in June, how about you? I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? Oh yeah, heat, humidity, doesn’t matter to me. Frogs, pestilence – that’s another matter.

  12. I’ve had heat exhaustion (when I was at the beach – years ago). It’s not fun. It’s the reason why I get up at 5.20 a.m. on my beach vacation to go running – I just can’t do it in the afternoon when I’m there. Also, if it’s broiling hot at the beach, I can only go out in the morning and in the afternoon. That being said – I actually have done pretty well in New York state summers. Drinking a lot of Gatorade before I go out works for me. I also have routes that are shady for hazy, hot, and humid days.

  13. the thought of running in humidity makes me want to stay in bed and blast the AC. i do it, but not well — i def subscribe to your “throw time goals out the window” point and i’m just happy if whatever i’m calling “running” isn’t “crawling.” drinking allll the water is a must but i still always hate it! i don’t mind the heat (without humidity) THAT much — i guess i’d prefer it to frigid — but humidity just shouldn’t be allowed. on that note, i think i’ll move to Southern California and hide from it forever. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Running, Imploding and Realizing I Have Eight Weeks To Go! | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

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