My, Oh My, I Swallowed a Fly!: Signs of Spring

I have swallowed the first bugs of spring.

That’s not an analogy for anything, it’s unfortunately quite literal. At the very end of a tempo run today, I ran, unsuspecting, straight through a large swarm of flies, realizing only too late that my mouth was quite open. I spat multiple times and swatted my face, killing probably about a dozen flies, but I most likely ingested one or two.

But enough of that. The graphic bug story only serves to symbolize the coming of spring, the real topic of this post. Besides bug swarms, spring also brings heat, which drastically changes my daily running routine, and I’m sure many other runners’ as well.

First of all, it brings an end to basement treadmill running- no fan can serve to alleviate the miserableness of a run in an 85 degree basement with no fresh air. If you go to an air conditioned gym, it may be a different story (I always yearn for air conditioning as I run by a local gym with people exercising comfortably while it’s 95 degrees outside. I also enjoy fantasizing about cool beverages I will enjoy if I make it home alive.).

Secondly, it means less warm up for tempo runs or speedwork- leg muscles get loose much more quickly in warm weather. But heat also limits your exertion level, and I always tend to run more slowly on hot race days than on cold.

Spring and summer also have a major impact on running fashion. Well, maybe not fashion per say, but I definitely break out a different running wardrobe for the warm months. I like to think of it as my minimalist running outfit- my shortest shorts and a sleeveless shirt (or, on occasion, no shirt). I may not be pretty to look at, but at least I don’t overheat.

Finally, more than anything else, spring means I carry more water. While I can get away with one water bottle for a 10 mile run on a winter day, it just won’t do in warm weather. I always bring money with me to buy water en route, or plan a water stop for long runs in the heat. And don’t forget to drink until it’s too late! Drink consistently throughout the beginning of the run, before you start getting thirsty (sound advice from my brother the runner).

Happy spring, and merry running to all.

Spring brings beauty--and allergies. Wikipedia Commons, author Benjamin Gimmel

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87 degrees – 10 degrees = 1 Good Run

I cannot over-emphasize the difference 10 degrees makes.

No, I am not talking about global warming, though a 10 degree increase in global temperatures would certainly be catastrophic. I am referring to the difference 10 degrees makes for a long run.

For the past few weeks, my long Sunday runs have been on 85 degree or higher days, with sticky humidity making the runs just short of miserable. My sweat would start pouring out before I could finish a single mile, and halfway through I’d be dehydrated and exhausted.

But today was different. And that difference was a “mere” 10 degrees. Today the temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Last week it was 87 degrees. The humidity was the same as last week, and I was possibly even more tired on today’s run than last Sunday’s. But today’s run felt amazing. I felt stronger, and barely needed to finish one water bottle. My sweating started just past mile 2. I ran my goal pace for the run easily, even with a pulled calf (which is due to my new Vibram Five Fingers; they’re still awesome, though).

All in all, it was a good run. Much better than my past few long runs in the heat have been. And now I’m getting excited for the winter: if this is how well I run with a 10 degree difference, think of what I can be doing when it is 60 degrees cooler outside!

Running Smart- continued

Yesterday’s temperature hit about 80 degrees with an average humidity of 78%. Not a day for running fast. In the past, I’ve tried to battle the heat, and attempt to log a decent time regardless of the temperature. In the past, I was stupid. After many nausea-inducing, dizzying, dehydrating runs in the heat, I have finally learned to respect the heat (humidity as well garners my utmost respect).

Yesterday I put my wisdom to use in an 11 mile run. First of all, the fact that it was an 11 mile run in itself is testament to my experience: It was originally a 12.25 mile run, which I quickly revised upon stepping out the door into a wall of heat. But besides for shortening the run, I also decided from the get-go that I would not care the slightest about my time. My goal was to keep a comfortable pace and not run into any trouble (no pun intended)- not to run fast.

And though at the end I did try to speed it up a bit (I didn’t know what to do with myself, I felt so good), for the most part I took it slow and easy. And it was the most comfortable I’ve felt on a long run in a while.

I also drank early, which I don’t do as often as I should- and it made a huge difference. With only one water bottle, I actually managed to get through the run in the heat of the day (it was about 1 pm) without any water-related problems.

As an extra boost on the way back, I also made sure to get sprayed by a sprinkler I had noticed on the run out. Granted, I must have looked strange as I ran onto someone’s lawn to soak myself with their sprinkler, but keep in mind that any dignity I may have disappears once I don my running shorts.