Too Hot To Handle

Even if you hydrate fully, pick the coolest time of day, prepare yourself in every way for a run in hot weather, you would still be hard pressed to come up with a stellar training run. Take half-baked measures to prepare and you are guaranteed to have a bad day.

Training for a fall marathon means the bulk of those long runs will be coming in the heat of summer. Far from ideal, it has left me ill prepared for several races. It’s not easy knocking out a 15 mile run in 90 degree weather. That is the mountain I attempted to climb this weekend, and as has been the case in the past, not one of my best runs. And has been the case in the past, it was my fault. My marathon training schedule called for a 15 miler this weekend, and knowing it would be very hot, the obvious plan was to hydrate fully and run early in the morning before it got ridiculous. Well, when the alarm went off at 5am on Saturday, I was just too lazy to get up. Besides, there was always Sunday, and my training would remain on track. It was what I did-or did not do on Saturday that dictated what kind of day I had on Sunday. I drank water, although not nearly enough considering what I was about to do, and stayed up late, meaning the Sunday run would be late. That meant hot.

By the time I headed out to the park Sunday afternoon, the temperature was over 90 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Had it been 6am when I should have gone the temperature would no doubt have been no more than 70. So there I was, underhydrated and overheated before the run even commenced. It was a recipe for disaster. The first few miles felt pretty good though. They always do. But by mile 3 I started feeling the heat. My thighs were tightening and I was feeling abnormal fatigue, considering how little I had actually run. It was time for a walk break. If you’re taking a walk break at mile 3 and you’re at 15 miles in your training program the day is just about shot. If I was already walking, how could I possibly do another 12 miles in this heat?

I couldn’t. It was a part shuffle, part walk after mile 5 and I was feeling every step. The symptoms of heat exhaustion were setting in. A mild headache was developing-and the fatigue. When I slowed to a walk I felt dizzy and had to bend over to get the blood rushing back to my head. It was getting ugly. By mile 7 I knew that it was going to be 10 miles max. A particular disaster considering I’m trying the 3 days a week plan where I run no more than three days with two days of cross training. This was one of the three days and it was a fail. On this plan there isn’t any way to make up what was lost. You blow a long run and you lost that week. I had reaped what I had sown. I blamed the heat for a few hours, but in the end it was me. I could have even gone treadmill if I had to. Can I overcome it? Probably, but maybe the more important question is why I self destructed in the first place. Hmm, where have I heard this before?

This coming Saturday is 17 miles. If I do it right I should be okay. Stay hydrated, get plenty of carbs, plenty of sleep-and make sure to do the run early in the morning. If you’re training for a marathon, laziness is no excuse. A race like that isn’t a jog around the park, it’s serious business. Treat it as such. I plan to do just that and redeem myself next weekend.

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