It’s gonna hit 100 degrees here in Chicago today. That’s the air temperature. That temperature, and the humidity, makes it feel like it’s, I think, 136 degrees out. I don’t care what anybody says, that’s hot.

But, I want to run or walk or do something active today. I’ve gotten out that last two days into the 100 acre wood and could probably do that again today. There’s shade on most of the path. And the temperature drops to, I think, 127 degrees in the shade. Look, you know it’s hot when the deer are standing neck deep in the small ponds.

What am I going to do? As soon as I finish this blog I’m going downstairs to Jenny’s Gym and walk/run on the treadmill. You read that right. I’m giving in. I’m conceding. I’m wimping out. I’m using my head. We say that there are old motorcyclists and bold motorcyclists but there are no OLD, BOLD motorcyclists. I think it’s true for runners too.

We runners and walkers tend to be a little obsessive about our activity. At least I am. And this year, now that I’ve hit the 200 day mark, I am especially obsessive. And cautious. I am not going to do anything today that risks my not being able to do something tomorrow. So, I’m heading downstairs and inside.

There will be people running along the lakefront today. There always are. Maybe they don’t have a choice. More likely they think they don’t have a choice. Their training schedule calls for a 5 mile tempo run today and – no matter what – they’re going to get it in. I get their commitment but question their judgement. It’s fine to be disciplined. It’s fine to have a schedule and sticking to it. But it’s not fine to ignore the truth about what’s going on around you.

The truth is that no matter what your training schedule calls for just getting out and walking is better than not doing anything at all. If, like me, you have access to a treadmill then you can adjust your schedule to something you feel comfortable doing on a treadmill.

Or, you can just take a day – or a couple of days – off. OFF.

You can’t finish if you don’t start. Please folks, let’s be careful out there.


John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, An Accidental AthleteThe Courage to Start, No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.

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  • I hear you. Went out last night at 6pm up in Appleton, WI. Car said it was 91, felt like 110. But I made it through a 10k hill course. And am feeling it today. I’d be all sorts of happy with a couple weeks of 75 right now.

  • Anne Millerd says:

    Thanks for the voice of reason! I am one of the lucky people living outside the heat wave zone, but your comments apply in other situations as well. For instance, when we runners are fighting a cold or worse, it’s good to be reminded that scaling down can show judgement, rather than a lack of commitment.

  • Lisa says:

    84 when I went to the Gym at 5:00 am this morning for my work out (Fort Worth, TX) 1/2 mile outside with the dog at 6:00. Tomorrow morning’s working out 4 miles will be at 4:30 am before the sun hits the horizon that’s the only way I can manage the heat. The gym I go to is warmer then outside (I wonder what I pay a membership fee for) so no point on hitting the treadmill there.

  • Fred Socoloff says:

    Living in Arizona as a runner you face the choice of when to run (time of day) Also believe or not we too have humidity. It is very easy to get heat exhaustion, ( i actual see it more often by out of shape golfers in carts who decide to drink cold beers instead of water). I remember my days on the Green Bay Trail in Glencoe with high heat & humidity. So my hats off to you, running inside is just not confined to rainy days.

  • Ruth says:

    Ah, they say that about climbers too: There are old climbers and bold climbers, but there are no old-bold climbers…btw. Thanks for the encouragement (your books and all, loved them..or, the one I’ve read)!

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