Adjust your thermostat, adjust your expectations

Wow. If you are on the east coast like we are, we don’t have to tell anyone that its been H.O.T.
“But wait……..don’t the weather gods know I supposed to be training for the ___ championship in __weeks ….not to mention the ___ race I’m doing this winter. My workout today was slow, and I felt bad on my long workout this weekend. I’m getting slower and this heat is killing my training!!!!!”
If you guys want some tips on running in the heat, there are some great words of wisdom on this blog if you scroll down. Let’s re-cap: – hydrate, run in the morning, hydrate, loose fitting and light colored clothing, and hydrate. OK fine – but lets get real on this summer’s weather and why we need to take it into consideration.
Last year in C’ville, we had 7 days above 90 degrees and they were scattered about the summer. Except for a small 2 week heat wave in the middle of the summer, it wasn’t all that hot all the time. You had the luxury of moving workouts a day or 2 ahead or behind in the week based on the heat. This summer, we’ve had 45 days above 90 degrees. We’ve had 7 above 100. And let’s be honest, its not really cooling off all that much at PM or in the AM (Friday night was 96 degrees at 9:00 PM!). Its been so hot that all outdoor high school and collegiate practices would be completely cancelled in weather like this. National and State sports governing bodies have established these regulations to protect the athletes. I know – you are tougher than them and need to get your speed work session in today though…….stay with me.
Dealing with this heat is all about adjusting your expectations. Let’s  re-state this point to be absolutely clear: Trying to train at your same intensity and volume (or increasing it) in this type of weather is NOT a smart thing.

If you don’t agree with me, let’s look at it from your body’s perspective. When you exercise, you ask your body to metabolize fuel stores, regulate energy balance, and produce mechanical work so that you can move from point A to point B. All this effort produces heat. Your body has a lot of internal mechanisms to regulate body temperature, and they work pretty well. But your body has limits as to how rapidly it can cool itself off. Did you know that your body actually begins to compromise its ability to perform at around 72 degrees? Now think about how much challenge a 95 degrees environment places on that body.

Still not convinced? Let’s say that your typical Wednesday morning track work out is 12x 90 second 400 repeats, with 45 seconds between each. Think about how much stress that places on the body under normal conditions. Now let’s consider our weather reality. Its now 10-15 degrees hotter than usual and more humid. Trying to run that same workout under these conditions is significantly more stressful than typical. You may notice that you can’t make the 90 second split without taking more rest between reps. You may even notice that under these conditions, 90 seconds is not even possible. Let’s say that your triathlon training schedule has you doing a 5 hr ride on Sunday AM. However, the heat has slowed your pace down significantly after 2.5 hrs, and all you want to do is jump off the bike into a cool pool. Its OK to back off the workload to match the change in conditions – you’ll STILL GET THE BENEFIT OF THE WORKOUT. Shorten the ride. Increase your rest. Take longer breaks between intervals. Do whatever it takes to be consistent with your training, but realize that extreme weather requires some modifications to ensure we aren’t just pounding ourselves into the ground. Remember- you’re body doesn’t really know exactly how fast its going or how long a rest you are taking; it just knows that you are pushing it harder than you have in the past and with all this heat, it just might push back.

This post is written in memory of a local high school runner who died of heat illness during a summer training run.



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