This time of year, every running publication posts articles offering tips for running when it’s hot. You know, wear light-colored clothing, don’t forget a hat and sunscreen, drink lots of water, and avoid running during the heat of the day.

Guy or gal, the feet take a beating when you run. Especially in the summer because your feet swell more in the heat. But in order to keep your feet and toes in working order and not so ugly that the world takes notice, you need to pay special attention to them.

Toenails are the worst. Over time, the toenails get pounded and thicken with running and can turn yellow or even black. Even worse, they can become infected and either fall off or have to be removed. Not a pretty picture. But it is a picture that is painted after marathons and long runs because of the abuse the toenails absorb.

Surprisingly, toenails don’t really serve any real function and you can run or walk normally without them. You probably don’t want to do that, but if you lose one or two after a marathon or long run, it’s not a big deal. They grow back in a few months and are just as good as new, if you end up getting an infection or fungal condition try clear nails plus.

Running in the heat

But when you live in a climate where summer temperatures don’t drop below 80* overnight, when exactly is “not during the heat of the day”?

The reality is there’s no advice anyone can offer to make it easier for Central Texas runners. High temps are above 90* for approximately four months of the year–either run outside and expect to suffer, or don’t. Yeah, some runners handle the heat better than others, but even the hardiest souls find themselves running a little slower or taking a few more water breaks from June to September.

I mean, what was winter this year? That one weekend in January? Hot weather is our life. But instead of complaining about it or offering trite “tips,” I challenge you to find a way to make it fun. Reward yourself for the suffering–have something to look forward to when you’ve finished your run.

Most Saturdays, my friends and I spend as much time at the coffee shop as we did running. Towards the end of my long run, it’s the thought of coffee and tacos that gives me that last push to finish strong.

Other times, such as today, we reward ourselves with a swim. We ran around the Town Lake Trail (Zilker Park to Mopac to the pedestrian bridge and back to Zilker) then swapped running shoes for flip flops and swam at Barton Springs pool. No matter how hot I get when I run, it only takes two seconds in that cold water to drop my body temperature back to normal. Bonus: it’s like an ice bath for my muscles, without actual ice.

Austin-running-morning

For as long as I can remember, early-morning lap swimmers have come here to enjoy the relative peace of Barton Springs pool. In fact, many of these folks swim here year-round. No lifeguards, no crowds, no problem. Oh and no entry fee before 8 A.M. either.

I’m not an early-bird, as a general rule. But I think sunrise on the trail is worth seeing now and then. And since you’re already out there (not running in the heat of the day, and all that) why not take in the (as yet) unspoiled magic of Barton Springs? This time of year, it’s all about the reward.