Right now, summer weather is real in the Mid-Atlantic. This record heat and high humidity will impact your run by demanding more of your energy and resources - planning ahead for these conditions is a must.
Although humid air feels heavy, it is actually lighter and less dense than non-humid air. Nonetheless, research has shown that high humidity is proven to exacerbate asthma symptoms; though using an inhaler prior to athletic activity on a humid day is proven to prevent attacks, researchers don’t have a clear idea of why. In my experience, humidity can make normal breathing feel like a challenge by causing heaviness in the chest, even shortness of breath.
In any case, while heat and humidity do not make for my favorite running conditions, I’ve learned that with adequate preparation, they don’t need to be a deal breaker. Here are a few strategies I use when running on a humid day (of note: the terms “long run” and “short run” are relative to your experience. For me, long run = 10+ miles; short run = sub-9 miles):
After your hot, humid run, take time to cool off, replenish your nutrients, and get some rest. You've earned it!
Located in Ashcroft, CO, just a short drive from Aspen, the Cathedral Lake trail lives up to its “strenuous” categorization at 5.6 miles roundtrip and 2,000 ft net elevation gain, almost all of which occurs in the first half of the trail.
I hiked this recently on a beautiful July afternoon, which was sunny and in the upper 70's - thankfully not too hot. The entire trek spanned 3 hours - 2 on the first half/uphill portion, and 1 hour back down to the trailhead.
Now that I’ve conquered the trail once, I know I’ll do a few thing differently on future visits, including:
Cathedral Lake was one of the more challenging trails I’ve hiked without a doubt - rivaling even the Mirador las Torres trail in Patagonian Chile (which is twice as long and equally as harrowing) - but the sheer majesty and grandeur of the scenery with every step was well worth it. And seriously, if I lived anywhere close to this trail, it would be a regular part of my ultra-training routine. This trail is an endurance athlete’s dream.
For more detail on Cathedral Lake, including driving directions and terrain breakdown, click here.