Obliterating heat – running in Athens,Greece

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Obliterating heat – running in Athens,Greece

People can tell you what running in 30+ degree celcius heat is like.

They can describe it in detail, and give you some tips even, but none of that will help you.

Just breath

Ever been in a sauna? If yes, then you’re familiar with what the last few minutes are like – close to unbearable. But it depends also, on the time of year you go into the sauna. If it’s winter time, then you’ll manage fine generally, but if you go into it on a summer day then you’re in for a special experience, which you won’t be forgetting probably for some time. That’s the closest I can come to describing running in Athens in the middle of July in the middle of the day. The trouble is not just the heat itself but also the hydration aspect, the sweat as well as the body affects overall.

Once the first 5min are under your belt you realize that your nostrils seem to struggle with inhaling the hot air too. But basically that’s your clock and your pump – your breath.

Never underestimate

We all do it, especially when preparing for something new that we can web search or YouTube some advice for and then feel like we are adequately informed and ready. Unfortunately the web won’t save you.

Your information won’t save you.

Your believed “knowledge” won’t save you.

Though the internet tries to function as a preparation device the reality cannot be described it can only be experienced as I am sure you’ve guessed. Fortunately the first few times of experiencing something new has the bonus impact of being brutal and insightful at the same time – like learning how to walk or ride a bike as a kid I suppose. Same with relentless heat! So for me, the key was to stay hydrated and move slowly. Don’t allow the ego to take over and speed up or tell you that water is unnecessary. As most runners know, once you feel thirsty it’s too late you are already dehydrated.

Stop thinking

The first thing to identify and immediately accept is the level of discomfort. It’s much more pronounced in scorching heat than on a lovely breezy day. This challenge results in you focusing on the discomfort constantly while running which I can tell you makes the discomfort, well, GREATER! So stop thinking about it, completely. I admit, not an easy thing but necessary. Focus on your breath, your steps, you legs moving forward and your hydration. The reality is that negative thoughts continued to seep into my mind throughout my run but I kept finding a distraction by looking around or focusing on the next lap in front of me. Within 10min I was pretty much soaked in my sweat so that adds another level of unpleasantness to it. Finally, I noticed that running on asphalt in the middle of a summer hot day in Greece also meant that my feet in my shoes were quite hotter than normal as well and depending on the distance could pose a problem. This last one I managed quite fine with no real disturbances.

The final lap

I found it a real pleasure. I mean I was extremely dehydrated at the end of it and needed to drink litters of liquids for the rest of the day it seemed, beer worked well, but mostly the challenge of the extreme conditions boosted me into action and motivated me to do it with a bit of glee. I don’t know if it has any biological benefits but mentally it strengthened me. I guess that’ s what they mean when they say “you learn from the struggle.” This, is a prominent subject in my post about learning how to speak a second language.

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growth mindset, heat, life learning, running
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