Hottest summer since 1896. No that's not it. The most number of 35deg plus days? I can't keep track of the nightly weather record reporting but I do know that it has been pretty damn warm this summer. The real hot days also seem to fall on the exact day that you have been planning an extra hard speed session, or an extra long, long run or even a race. Luckily my recent Knapsack 41km was an exception. If I ran that in conditions similar to last Sunday - 6 laps at best!
So I'm trying to reflect whether I am currently fit, slow or somewhere in between. I have shown a few glimpses of speed of late but a lot of my runs are done pretty slowly it seems lately as I struggle around in the 30+ deg sunshine. Everything feels lethargic, requiring more energy than normal. "Dad can you get me a drink?" "Sorry mate, too far to the fridge and it will just affect my run later."
Maybe not quite that extreme but close. Yesterday morning we had some relief where the rain drizzled on us in the park first thing and the temp hovered around a cooler 24-25deg. And the legs responded well (for a short while anyway). We also had almost 50 people show up to our Rejoov Tues set which on a rainy day is unheard of. The relief it seems is very welcome. Short lived I see as the mercury is expected to shoot over 40deg from Fri to Sun this week.
So here are a few benefits of running in the heat from what I have gleaned from my experience and the net.
1. It can make you more fit. There have been studies that show that training in hot weather increases your fitness level. It’s been compared to altitude training… Your body learns how to work out at a more intense level, so when you are in “normal” conditions, it feels easier. (Note: some research says this only happens if you work out for at least an hour in hot conditions so stay out there folks).
2. It can help make your body more efficient. For runners (long distance in particular), efficiency is what makes us faster. Running in the heat helps make our bodies more efficient, which is always a bonus. Basically, the hot weather requires the body to increase its blood flow. Since it expands its volume, it can pump more blood out to vital organs… this helps make our hearts more efficient (which is why runners have such low heart rates usually).
3. It helps you build your mental fitness. Running in the heat can be really challenging. But one of added benefits is that it can make you mentally tougher. If I can make it through a tough workout when it’s really hot, then you can surely draw on this feeling as you start to feel it during a cool weather race.
4. Heat helps you vary your runs. Instead of running your normal route (under the sun), find a new way to go that may incorporate a swim, some shade, regular bubbler stops and the like. Whatever it is, heat will help you get creative so you can still get your run done without getting sick.
5. You learn how to sweat better. The point of sweating is to regulate your body temperature better. The better you sweat, the cooler you are. So definitely an added bonus that your body becomes more efficient at handling hot weather after training in it.
6. A really good excuse to stand around the water cooler all day telling your workmates how good you are. Ok perhaps you don't necessarily need the heat for this one.
Last week was a bit of a write off. My right calf knot refused to budge early on so I backed off, massaged it and over the course of a few days it disappeared. No need to race off to a physio for an expensive diagnosis. No needles required nor special ointment or a trip to a psychic to ask them about it. Simple rest and active recovery. (I'm certainly not recommending you do not see a health care professional but in the first instance of a niggle, rest is the main ingredient).
Mon Jan 30th: No run day off - limping around after possibly over exerting in yesterday's CP run.
Tue 31st: 10km very easy with the Rejoov squad. Tried to run a 3/4 pace tempo but pulled up short and took up the role assistant coach for the 400m reps.
Wed 1st Feb: 7km very very gingerly
Thur 2nd: 8km at 4:40 pace. Knot starting to shift
Fri 3rd: Morning Rejoov squad cycle which involved some fast half laps. Legs always feel heavy afterwards. PM: 8km again at 4:40 pace. No more pain. Left one slightly flared up. Wow that Knapsack really knocked them around.
Sat 4th: Had already decided not to race Sun Run or Striders 10km so I joined the Rejoov Sat session which was 2 x white fence laps at tempo/threshold pace. First one wasn't too shabby with a 12:08 (average 3:23) lap / 3mins rest / then a good first 1km with new recruit (50yr old Ben) who kept me honest through in 3:19 before we both slowed incrementally in the heat and I ended up with 12:38 for the 2nd lap with Ben 20secs behind. He has enthusiasm and strength that is really paying dividends.'
Sun 5th: Met Renee, Jeet and Eoin at the Striders Rose Bay long run StAR and yep - it was hot yet again. But we headed off on what was supposed to have been 29km. Unfortunately at the time I again steered the crew the wrong way thinking I knew the way and we chopped off a 2-3km Bronte section. It was getting hot already and I remarked that I think they would be thanking me later for that.
We made our way via Bondi Beach, along the coast to Watson's Bay, chopped off another 1-2km section and crawled our way along the inner harbour foreshore (great boardwalk) stopping practically every 200m at a bubbler, tap or fishpond for a drink. Then arriving back at Lynne Park for 25km hard done. The good part was that we were all in the same boat and were okay with just cruising along as best we could. The splash into the harbour afterwards was well worth it - including the look on Jeet's face just before he made the perilous 1m leap (AKA Tom Highnam style).
Total for the week: 69km which was not too bad considering.
Events coming up / entered already:
* State track 5000m on Feb 18th. Goal time - 15:40. Expected time sub 16
* Striders March 10km - hoping for low to mid 33's at least weather dependent
* Canberra in early April
* UTA 22km Friday 18th May
Rejoov is well a truly gearing up for a great winter ANSW season with our men's team including:
Tom H, Barts, Jeet, Scotty O, Eoin, myself, Matt Wacher and Jesse (our new Rejoov young gun)
The women need some more recruits with Greta, Erika, Jenny Doak and Maya the four so far.
Let us know if keen. I'm also planning a NOOSA run camp during winter so stay tuned for this one.