After suffering through subfreezing temperatures all winter, it might sound silly to complain about hot weather. But just as “it’s too cold” is a common excuse to scrimp on exercise during the winter months, “it’s too hot” is a go-to reason to forgo a workout during the few months that it is actually warm in Montana.

Discomfort, of course, is part of getting — and staying — in shape. But some people don’t handle the heat as well as others.

To those who cringe at the thought of slogging down the road in a sweat-drenched T-shirt, I offer the following advice: make it fun.

“Fun? What could possibly be fun about sweating so much that my eyes burn from the saltiness of my own perspiration?” you might ask.

Well, obviously running/walking/jogging in the heat is not inherently fun. To make it fun, you have to add an element of challenge. Here a few of my favorite hot-weather running “games”:

1. The Shade Game: As you might have guessed from the title, this game involves running in the shade. Instead of setting a route before I head out, I head in the direction of the first patch of shade I spot. From there, I chase down another patch of shade, then another, and so on. This strategy keeps the course interesting and unpredictable while giving my body a break from the draining effect of direct sunlight. The residential streets surrounding the University of Montana campus are great for the Shade Game, as there is an abundance of tall, leafy trees.

2. The Sprinkler Game: This game is very similar to the Shade Game. As you run down the street, keep an eye out for lawns and gardens with active sprinklers. When you spot one, head toward it — no matter how far out of the way it is. After running through it, challenge yourself to find another one before the water lingering on your skin and clothing has dried. Not only will the sprinklers help you stay cool and refreshed, but also you will get in some good speed work as you hustle from spout to spout.

3. The Otter Pop Game: This isn’t so much a game as it is a reward system. Go to the grocery store and buy a box of your favorite frozen treats, but resolve to only let yourself have one at the end of a sweaty workout. I can tell you from experience that Otter Pops taste much better at the end of a long, hot run. In fact, I find the taste to be disappointing in all other contexts — which, in a twisted sort of way, serves as further motivation to run myself to sweaty exhaustion.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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