Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone celebrating a happy, fun, and safe Christmas weekend spent with loved ones. I will be back on Monday with my training recap. Training is going so much better this week–a nice early Christmas gift!
Happy Friday! I’ve been a little absent the past few weeks because, life. I actually had to take the day off work today to get caught up with the thousand errands and tasks I haven’t had a chance to do. I’m behind on blog reading but planning to get caught up soon.
Yesterday and today were miserable here. Super hot and super humid. The kind of weather where you feel like you’re swimming through the air, where it’s hard to breathe, and where I’m reminded how much I’m a cold-weather-loving girl. And yet, my runs went surprisingly well. This is the worst summer I can remember in terms of heat and humidity, and yet my marathon training is going very well. I feel great physically and am still enthusiastic and excited about running. When I hear about other runners having a much more difficult time in the hot weather, I wonder what I’m doing differently. The answer to me is very clear: my coach. I’ll be posting next week on my experience so far working with Melissa, a Hanson’s coach, but it can’t be a coincidence that I’m having such a great training cycle in awful summer conditions while working with a coach for the first time. Until then, I thought I’d share some of her advice on how to handle running in brutal summer conditions. She has told me that while we can’t change the weather, we can set ourselves up to be as successful as we can.
Lower Your Expectations
During the heat-dome days a few weeks ago, Melissa sent me and the other runners she coaches this message.
Know that it’s impossible to feel as good or run as fast when conditions are this extreme. Don’t get discouraged and don’t get down on yourself. It’s about surviving these tough days so that you are stronger on the good days. Be smart in these conditions, take water, slow the pace, and cut the run short if you need to.
In other words, there will be other days to kick butt on those repeats. There will be other days to nail your long run. Days that are brutally hot and humid are just about getting it done. Get through them and save your best effort for better weather.
Also, I’m going to repeat this because I think it’s so important: Don’t get down on yourself! Just getting out there in tough conditions is an accomplishment! Here’s another quote from Melissa:
Since each runner is different it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number that it slows each runner down, but unless you’re a freak of nature the hot conditions will slow us down or at least make the effort harder.
Control What You Can
We know all these things, but Melissa reminds me regularly about them because they’re so important:
Run early or late when the sun isn’t blazing. I run early mornings before the sun comes up or on trails if I go later on weekends. I’m planning on starting long runs very early to minimize my time in the sun.
Hydrate before and during your run. I drink a big glass of ice water as soon as I wake up. I take a salt stick cap before every run in the hot weather, no matter how short or easy, and always carry ice water (sometimes with Nuun) with me.
Wear comfortable and lightweight clothes. If there’s ever a time to spend money on expensive workout clothes, now’s the time. Activewear companies are continuously innovating on new fabrics and styles designed to keep you as cool as possible. I choose pieces with maximum airflow and comfort. See my activewear highlights from last month for my current favorites.
Put ice cubes everywhere. This isn’t from Melissa but is a tip I read many times that really works. I put ice cubes everywhere–in my bra, in my headband, under my hat, and even just in my hands so I can rub my arms and neck with them. When my runs start getting longer I will likely bring ice cubes in a cooler with me so I can frequently refresh myself with them.
Alter Your Workout
Yesterday I had my first planned run at goal marathon pace–when it was 78 with 93% humidity at 5:30 a.m. I asked Melissa in advance what to do. Should I ignore the weather and just start running at goal pace? Should I go slower? Or should I do repeats instead of a continuous run so that I can take a break between each mile at goal pace? This is what she said.
It’s never going to hurt to back the pace up by 10-15 seconds to start, and then if you feel good pick it up to the regular pace. You set yourself up for a better workout this way. If the regular pace is too fast for the heat you’ll end up fading the whole run, which is also mentally frustrating. For the 4 mile tempo I would stick to doing the run all at once like a normal tempo but back the pace up for the first mile. After the first mile judge if you should stay at the slower pace or if you think you can start cutting it back down to marathon pace. I would almost run it more cut-down style, allowing yourself to ease into the pace.
Heat is insidious. You can feel fine at first, but it can creep up on you silently, then hit you suddenly and make you feel like crap. Melissa’s approach prevents that. I did exactly what she suggested. I ran the first three miles about 15 seconds slower than goal pace then was able to cut back and run the last mile at just 5 seconds slower than goal pace. I didn’t feel awful and was overall pretty happy with the run.
Notice that in pretty much everything Melissa says, she focuses on how you’re mentally feeling. I’m sure that’s because she knows what an enormous impact your thoughts have on your training. We all know how frustrating it is to have a crappy run, where we feel awful physically and dwell on how much we had to walk or slow down. It can be hard to pull yourself out of that thinking, and soon enough you may be wondering if you should even continue training for that fall race given the 10-day weather forecast. On the Hanson’s online community group, one person posted that exact thought. Head Coach Luke Humphrey immediately chimed in with, “Take it one day at a time, people!” I’ve just started the difficult part of my training, and I refuse to think about how much more time I have. Just like staying in the mile you’re running, it’s also important to take training one day at a time. This weather won’t last forever.
I think one reason why I’m doing so well in the heat is that Melissa basically sets me up to be successful every single workout. She reviews every one of my runs and checks in with me after. She then creates my plan based on how I’m feeling. So, in essence, my plan is being designed to ensure my success, and because I’m successful, I feel great. One example is Thursday’s tempo run at race pace that I mentioned above. I followed all her suggestions–I lowered my expectations and altered my pace–and that was the difference between me feeling like I failed at a workout and me being happy with it. I’m learning that a good workout isn’t just about how well you stuck to the plan or the pace. It’s more about how you good you thought it was. Add another good workout and another, and soon you have a good training cycle. I’m believing that good training cycle will then evolve into a good race!
I hope you too can benefit from some of thEse tips from Coach Melissa! I’ll be back Sunday with my weekly training recap and will be talking more about working with a coach next week. Until then, have a great weekend!
Happy Sunday and happy Mother’s Day to all mothers–including those of use who have four-legged kids! 🙂 My husband, greyhound, and I are headed to my mom’s house to spend the day with her.
Life happened this past week. I was busy and had little time for working out and blogging, which is why I was so absent. It was a really off-week for me, but I’d rather weeks like this happen when I’m not training.
I posted about this Friday, but I just realized that many blog comments were going into a junk mail folder that I’d never checked. Again, I apologize to anyone who thought I wasn’t letting her comments through! I think I got it worked out and approved all the comments that had gotten stuck.
Here’s how last week went down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: In off-season between training cycles
- Days running: 3 (!)
- Miles this week: 14.1 (!)
- Miles this month: 19.1
- Miles this year: 618.84
- Strength training sessions: 2
- Time strength training: 70 minutes
I did 35 minutes of lower body and core strength training.
Intervals: 5 miles (49 degrees)
I did 6 x .25-mile repeats with equal recovery and warm-up and cool-down. I wanted to push the pace a bit and was excited to see splits under 9:00 for the first time ever! I ended the workout feeling like I could do more repeats and felt really good. Splits were 8:53, 8:43, 9:06, 9:06, 9:12, and 9:01.
Tempo run: 5 miles (49 degrees)
I did the same workout as last week–a 2-mile warm-up, 2 tempo miles with a 10:00 target pace, and a cool-down mile. This was really tough for me, and I just wasn’t able to hit my paces. Splits were 10:20 and 10:08. I need to keep working at it.
The exciting moment from this run was getting attacked by a momma goose. The geese and their babies were blocking the trail. I saw another runner up ahead stop to consider, then just run fast through them. I thought that might work for me too, but momma was on high alert by then. She came after me, but I kept squirting her with my water bottle until I got away. I went back another way!
Unplanned rest day. I’m a morning person and am rarely tired when I wake up. When my alarm went off Friday morning, I was incredibly tired and just could not get up to run. Of course I’ve taken planned days off running, but I don’t think I’ve ever not run in the morning because I was tired in…a year? More? I planned to run after work, but that plan usually doesn’t work out for me, and sure enough by the end of the day the last thing I felt like doing was running. So, no running, which felt really weird.
Easy run: 4.1 miles (49-61 degrees)
I met Anna for a run on the trail, where we luckily ran through before the Color Run started because we absolutely didn’t want to get caught in that mess. To bypass it on our return trip, we ended up running through some sort of motorcycle rally by Heinz Field. You never know what to expect on weekend summer runs on the trail!
Afterwards I did 35 minutes of lower body and core strength.
We took Django on a long walk to the park then hung out on or patio until it was time to start getting ready for our friends’ wedding. I met them through an online forum for greyhound owners when we first adopted our greyhound nearly four years ago, and we regularly get together with our greyhounds. The wedding was at an art gallery with an outdoor courtyard, so it was really cool. They watch Django when we go on vacation, so many people I met at the wedding knew Django. One couple even told me they went hiking with him! I love that my dog has his own circle of friends apart from us! Their two greyhounds were there, with flower garlands around their necks, and brought out their rings. So cute! It was a really nice wedding and a fun time.
I’d planned to run with Anna and Jamie. But after lots of champagne and sampling non-vegan donuts the night before, I was in no shape to run. Who am I?! Missing not one but two runs in a week??? Ah, well. Again, it’s good to get this out of my system now before training starts! Instead of running, I took Django on a long walk on the trail.
I’m hoping to have more breathing room this week and am looking forward to getting back into my regular running, strength, and blogging routine.