Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Handling The Heat Wave

Much like Hansel, Provo UT is so hot right now. Seriously guys, I'm on fire. With every day approaching 100 degrees, it makes even a simple run pretty tricky. So here are some tips for handling the heat:

1. Run early in the day

The coolest part of the day is dawn, so if you are willing to get up that early (or already do) this is how most people deal with it. I actually don't use this one, because I never feel good before I've had any water or food, but it's popular so I thought I'd include it.

2. Find an indoor track

BYU actually has a really nice air-conditioned track that is five laps to a mile so it almost feels like running on the normal oval (minus the blazing temperatures) and during the summer it is open almost all of the time. I don't think you even have to be a student to use it, so if you live in the area and want to sneak in, I wont tell anyone.

3. Go swimming beforehand

I noticed that this worked by accident last summer, because my friends and I would go swimming on a lazy, hot afternoon, and after being in the pool all day I found I was really refreshed and wanted to get up and move around. I remember one time when I even did repeat kilometers, my hardest interval workout, in 99 degree weather, and it wasn't too bad. I think there is even some science behind this, because Tim Noakes mentions pre-cooling in "Lore of Running", the idea being that if you lower your body temperature a little before the run, the heat will have to first raise it to the normal 98.6, then work on taking you past that, essentially acting like a temporary buffer and giving you more time before you overheat.

4. Get used to it

This is actually crucial if you are planning on racing in any hot-weather conditions. Running in the heat is a skill, one that you need to hone if you intend it to be part of your repertoire on race day. I'm focusing on shorter distances like 5 and 10 kilometers which are almost always first thing in the morning, so I'm not putting myself through much of this kind of suffering. But if you have a marathon or ultra coming up, no matter how early it starts it will almost certainly extend into the warmer part of the day so it pays to act like the Boy Scouts and be prepared.

5. Be realistic

The middle of the winter and the middle of the summer are excruciating in the high desert, so I plan on not being able to run my absolute best during these times because the environment is just so hostile. I trained hard in the spring and ran a great 5k right as the weather was starting to really heat up, and now I'm regrouping and getting ready for the fall when the temperatures will drop and I will be able to train and race at my best.