The sleeved tops and running capris have been pushed to the back of my wardrobe, and the tank tops, singlets and shorts that have been in hibernation since November last year have regained prime position. As the beads of sweat trickle down my forehead five minutes after jogging out my front door, I am reminded again that summer is nearly here in Hong Kong.
Coming from single-season Singapore where it's hot and humid year-round, I should be relatively accustomed to the heat. In reality, I'm terrible in it, because I sweat buckets and can't rehydrate fast and adequately enough. Last week, I came back from a run and my security guard thought I'd gone swimming.
To deal with the heat and humidity, I have the following strategies:
- Wake up earlier and get the run done by 8am. For long runs I sometimes have to wake up at 4.30am, but sleep deprivation, to me, beats getting baked by the sun. The other option is to run in the evening, but I'm partial to morning rather than night runs because I like to start my day with exercise.
- Plan a route that has more shade and goes by waterfalls, public bathrooms, provision stores, or any sources of water for drinking or dousing myself in.
- Let the body acclimatise gradually to the season. This means running slower and for shorter distances, and progressively increasing both pace and duration as the body adapts. The challenge is really a mental one: to learn to lower expectations and accept that I just can't go as hard or fast as during winter.
- Go light and loose. While during the cooler months I may carry a hydration pack, doing so in summer means my body can't dissipate heat as well when there's something on my back. A waistpack or a handheld hydration bottle are better options. With clothing, I avoid wearing dark colours and apparel that are tight against the skin. And I never leave home without a visor and my Oakleys.
- Hydrate constantly, even when not running. This keeps the body's cooling mechanisms slick.
While the main trail running racing season is now over, there are still many races happening from now till August to look forward to. Most events are short - which not only means less time racing in the heat, but also shorter training sessions in preparation for the race. The friendlier race distances also mean you don't need to be superfit to join in the fun.
Here's a pick of some upcoming races in Hong Kong:
2XU Hong Kong Stairmaster series  - This new two-race series, held in the evenings, is organised by top local trailrunner and Lantau Base Camp  shop owner, Jeremy Ritcey. Race one (May 10) goes over Sunset and Lantau Peaks on Lantau Island, and race two (May 24) goes over Violet Hill and the Twins on Hong Kong Island.
Bonaqua Mountain Hardwear Action Sprint series  - The Mui Wo and Sai Kung legs are over, but there's still the Repulse Bay (April 28) and Discovery Bay (May 5) events to go. Each race is about 12-13km long with about 75 per cent off-road trail running and 25 per cent small rocky sections, gullies, coastlines included for the adventure. Helmets mandatory.
Teva Julbo Kayak n Run series  - Organised by Action Asia Events, who also does the Action Sprint series, these races are for teams of two and consist of ocean kayaking and trail running. Race distances include an "Adult" and a shorter "Family" option. Three events: Deep Water Bay (May 25), Discovery Bay (June 15) and Tai Tam Tuk (July 13).
Compressport Splash 'n Dash series  - This three-race Aquathon (swim and run) series has been very popular with families and triathlon beginners because of its friendly distances (Kids', Sprint and Challenge) and fun atmosphere. Events are held at Repulse Bay (May 12 and June 23) and South Bay (June 9). The on-site bouncy castle and post-race muffins are particularly popular among participants.
Remember to sign up quickly because entries sell out fast for these races!