If you can’t take the heat…

It can get really hot in Hanoi. Over the last few weeks, temperatures have been in the mid-thirties and humidity has been pushing 80%. I’ve tried running in such conditions and admittedly, it’s been really hard. On even the shortest run, my heart rate has rapidly gone up whilst still running at the same speed.

A recent training run - Heart rate (in red) goes up. Pace (in blue) goes down.
A recent training run - Heart rate (in red) goes up. Pace (in blue) goes down.

Apparently, my heart is trying to multi-task, trying to keep me cool by pumping blood to the extremities, whilst still pumping as normal to keep me running. In order to keep any sort of stable heart rate, my pace has, in an equal and opposite manner, rapidly gone down.The heat has definitely taken its toll. So here’s a few things I’ve done in order to get a run in here in Hanoi.

The first thing I do is get up at 5 am when it’s definitely less hot. Also, it seems to be what all the locals do here. I’d be heading out the door at 5.20 am, just as the sun rises, and already there are 50 Vietnamese people walking, jogging, biking, playing badminton, or doing stretching exercises. I usually go around Tay Ho Lake for my run, and there are even people up at the crack of dawn rowing, swimming, and fishing. This is a nation of early starters!

Alarm set for 5am for an early-morning heat-avoiding run.
Alarm set for 5am for an early-morning heat-avoiding run.

One suggestion given on Runner’s World is to keep a hat in the freezer and to put it on as you run. Some guys even pack ice under their hats so that it melts as they run. Anything to keep you cool is worth a try!

Hat in the freezer, all ready for the next run.
Hat in the freezer, all ready for the next run.

Once I get back from my run, I am normally dripping in sweat, and the sweat just keeps going even for thirty minutes after I’ve stopped. Even my feet sweat, leaving my shoes heavy with perspiration. All I can do is drink water in order to replace all that I have lost. In the last two days, I’ve managed to get through half a water barrel, that’s 4.5 litres a day. That’s a lot of water and sweat, even by my standards.

A 19 litre water barrel gone in 2 days!
A 19 litre water barrel gone in 2 days!

Sometimes, I come off a run and I feel like I am literally burning up. My face in particular feels like it’s got a red hot iron pressed against it. In such cases, I don’t even bother to take anything off but I step right into a cold shower with all my clothes on just to try to cool down.

Straight into a cold shower after a run.
Straight into a cold shower after a run.

I’m not too worried though. I’ve only been in Hanoi for two weeks, and they say it can take a month to acclimatise to such the weather. Also, August is one of the hottest months in Hanoi, and weather predictions suggest that from September onwards the heat will decrease by a ‘whopping’ one degree a week. And I have also taken the opportunity to stay cool by doing a bit of cross-training: I’ve found a few great outdoor swimming pools around here, which also makes a welcome break from non-stop running.

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4 thoughts on “If you can’t take the heat…

  1. Perhaps you could send some of that heat over here Moire via Fedex or something! Weather already cooling down a bit over here! 😦

    1. Sorry Jackie, but this heat is all mine, mine, mine 🙂

      Ireland’s great and everything, but if it could just warm up a bit, then it’d be heaven!

    1. 4.30 am – Ouch, that’s early! Guys here were saying to just get out at midday and get used to the heat. Its painful, but I think its just about working…

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