Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's not the heat, it's the...ok, it's the heat!

"A champion is someone bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is looking" - Unknown, but one of my favorite quotes

Well, can't say we've broken through this heat wave yet. Went out this morning at 5:30 and the "Al Scale" was at a whopping 170 (temp was 79 and the humidity was 91%). Decided to go easy and try to get through a slow 2+ hour run. Once the sun came up, I don't think there was a cloud between here and Oklahoma.Actually, if you cut your pace down to about that of a plow horse, you can get through runs like this. I went through 3 bottles of water and still lost 5#. Maybe I can peddle this..."Lose 5# in two hours! Be ready for your Class Reunion in a snap". Sorry to say guys, this is summer in Alabama. Plan for it, and you've got it more than 50% whipped. Understand that this is simply survival running and you can't put any stock in what your pace is. Getting out the door is the first great hurdle. I've always subscribed to the idea that in order to be a successful long distance runner, you can't hide indoors when the it gets hot as hades or cold as...well, a cold day in hell. Now, of course, we have to go back to a few blogs ago when I talked about common sense and listen carefully to what your body is telling you. It will do all it can to help you get through whatever level of stress you try to put it through, but it does have it's limit. You have to train, you have to acclimate, you have to prepare. You can't spend June and July at the YMCA and then in August you decide you're going to do the Hometown Marathon in September, so it's time to put in a 20 miler...on the Hometown the heat... Yeah, let me know how that one goes.

I remember, about 20 years ago, anywhere from 2-6 of us would meet every lunchtime at UAB (my University) and do 5-8 miles. We would do this 12 months a year, 4-5 days during the work week. We would acclimate to the cold, to the heat, to the rain, to the snow, and everything in between. These runs were at a pretty brisk pace and the last two blocks were always a "balls-to-the-wall" sprint. Those were the days I set all my PR's.Now, all my runs are in the early morning, so I'm not acclimated to anything post 8 o'clock. I've given some slack to my runs in terms of distance and pace, mostly out of necessity, but more importantly because this is what I have to do to keep running. And I love to run. It is ingrained in me. I see a trail, and I don't just picture running it...I can feel myself running it. Physically, maybe I couldn't run that trail, but I can still feel it. I don't want to ever lose that feeling. I still see ads for marathons and say I'd like to run that one, and then I go out on a morning like today and 12 miles buries me. Maybe I could run that marathon and finish before Tuesday, but I still have that feeling that I am a runner.So, I get out there in the heat, and the humidity, and the sky-high Al Scale readings, and I accept "cold molasses uphill" pace. I am a runner. It will cool off soon, and then the real whining begins because I absolutely, positively HATE cold weather. But, my friends, I'll be out there...and hopefully, so will you.

Ok, I've sorta rambled around with this week's RWA. Tomorrow, my wife and I are headed to New Mexico for a little vacation. It's cooler there and the humidity is way low (Al Scale in the 120's). Maybe I'll see if my pitiful pace is really due to the H & H. Wait, maybe I don't want an answer to that one. Either way, I hope you all have a good and safe training week. I'll see you on the roads - AL

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