Torture Report: Heat Edition

Cooling off during a recent June race. You never appreciate a cold hose sprinkler until you need it.

H-E-A-T. In a word, it’s been my nemesis. I battled with heat for quite some time. The funniest part about it is, it was a one-sided war. The sun is simply being the sun. It’s not personal so why did I make it so? A couple of years ago, I made a decision that I was done with wasting energy being at odds with what is essentially Mother Nature. I could expend/waste as much energy as I liked on hating how the temperature felt on my body, how hot or cool I felt, and it changed nothing. What it did, however, was drain me. It was futile. I decided that the road I needed to be on was acceptance. This approach essentially sounded like this in my head while running: Yes, I can feel the heat. This is what it feels like. OK. I can do this.

And, you know what? It helped. I still didn’t necessarily enjoy the heat I just stopped focusing so much on it.

Then, about two weeks ago I began, in earnest, focusing on my next race at the end of July. All you need to do is utter the word July and there isn’t much else to say. We can kinesthetically recall how it feels. If you live in Ohio, where I do, it’s hot, humid, sticky, claustrophobic and unrelenting.

Acceptance is the first step for any change. Now I am ready for the next step, which is to lean into it. What that means for me is intentionally going out mid-day or late in the day and running. I’ve started out small with distances I can mentally and physically tolerate. I am taking the long-game approach on this, which is the short way of saying I will not be my best with the heat by late July. But I will be better than I am today. I am taking it in baby steps. I am consistently and regularly putting myself in a situation I do not enjoy and learning to expand my capacity to tolerate. It’s the only way we ever widen the window of our comfort zone with anything. Repeated exposure over time will reduce our reaction to any stimulus, good or bad. And the truth is heat isn’t bad, it just is. 

I have said for years that running is a metaphor for life and it’s never been truer than in this instance. Each time I step outside in the hotter weather and decide, I am going to do this, I am meeting myself. I am facing down my own resistance. In some ways, I am facing down my own fear. Fear about whether I can tolerate it, or if it will hurt more than I want, or can bear. So many little fears. This isn’t to say that heat shouldn’t be respected. Indeed it should but with proper consideration, it doesn’t require my fear. It requires my willingness to be uncomfortable and to properly care for and hydrate myself. 

I guess you could say that this is a Torture Report of old but as we change I think our perceptions do well to change with us, so instead I am calling this my Growth Edge Report. Here’s to the heat, soon may it cease to be an obstacle.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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