It's summer. The gray that covers the sky along the coast of San Diego is becoming more rare and will soon be long gone. It'll be 80 degrees by 7am and it will be really tough to run in. But I love it...
I think it's easy to look ahead to the summer and think about how hot it will be. Most places will be really humid, too, which makes it even tougher to run in. You can dread getting out in the sun and sweating your muscles dry and zapping your energy. As I was running last week I was thinking about how it was about to get hotter and hotter and running 9-10 times a week in the heat sounds so daunting and miserable. I was just thinking about how AWFUL it could be! But then I snapped out of it. Something in my mind just switched. I thought about each season of the year (and it's true with each new season in life) that there is something to dread. There will always be something to attach your mind to that you can absolutely hate. I thought about the change into winter and how the days get shorter and I do all my second runs in the dark. Then in the dead of winter how it's so cold and so hard to get out of bed in the morning and it takes 3 miles just to warm up. There's always something... you can choose to continue thinking that way if you want, but my mind has gone to the other side.
In the middle of my run last week I began to love the idea of the heat. Somewhere in my sick and twisted mind is a place that loves the bitter cold and the dreadful heat. There's something great about having such passion for the sport that no elements or variables can stop you! And sometimes they only succeed in motivating you more!
Benefit From It
"The poor man's altitude." That's what some call the heat and humidity. To run and perform workouts at altitude it can take weeks for your body to adjust. Even to the acclimated, workouts are done at a slower pace adjusted for the altitude. Your body has to work harder to get oxygen to your muscles, efficiency is compromised, and your body has to work to adjust to the harder environment. While the environment is not the exact same with altitude and heat, the stress on your body is similar. Your body has to work harder to remain efficient, it can take weeks for your body to adjust to the change, and workouts should never be expected to look identical to a cool, crisp morning workout.
Studies have shown (I can't find the article for reference, but it's true) that more people PR at fall marathons than in the spring. Maybe it's coincidence or maybe it's because there are great marathons in the fall, but I think otherwise. I think it's because the summer sun calls runners outside to train and then hits them with the heat that ultimately will make them more prepared for their race. Then on race day it's like coming down from altitude. Most fall marathons are late enough in the year and early enough in the morning to provide a cool day. So your body that is used to working overtime to stay cool and keep you moving efficiently suddenly finds that it doesn't have to work so hard to hit race pace!
I can't spend a few weeks at altitude camp to prepare for a race, but I can walk straight out my door everyday and be thankful to train in the "poor man's altitude." And, honestly, I believe it's worked for me before. In 2013, I trained through a hot summer for NYC marathon. It didn't cool down until about a week before the race (and I wore long sleeves all week, see Race Week Prep) and race day was a crisp 40 degrees. I ran a 17 minute PR and blew my goal out of the water by 4 minutes! Then just last year in Berlin, I had just run another 10 minute PR in the spring and took another 3 minutes faster to run my current PR of 2:23. So I embrace the summer heat and I'm thankful for its benefits.
If you're looking to run a PR this fall in any distance or just increase your running fitness in any capacity, I'd love to help you reach your goals. Please CONTACT me and let's get you faster than you've ever been!