Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Hot town, summer in the city, Back of my neck getting burnt and gritty,Been down, isn't it a pity, Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city. . . (the rest of the lyrics don't fit)

The temperature guage on my car said 90 degrees this morning at 6:30 a.m. as I headed out to the park for a bike ride. Ten degrees hotter than yesterday when I ran and felt myself for the first time this summer noticing how hard it was to breathe. At first I thought it couldn't possibly be right, but then I did recall hearing on the news that the heat index at 5:30 a.m. was 86 degrees, so 90 would be about right.

Everyone is feeling the heat these days, with record temperatures everywhere in the Midwest. Our downtown temperature registered in at 103 degrees yesterday. Chicago was about the same, horrible thought that is!

I guess I am getting fairly acclimated to the heat, considering I have no air conditioning at home. But I am keeping totally disciplined to working out in the morning because of it. While I'm no expert, from my own experience over the many years of being involved in running and triathlon, working out in extreme temperatures never does anyone any good. Heat and cold yes. You do need to acclimate. Running in the middle of the afternoon when it is over 90 degrees and the heat index is even higher is crazy, and serves no real purpose unless you're training for the Badwater in Death Valley. I'm reading on blogs all the "heat" training people are doing, then hearing how awful they feel, for days after even, and I have to question the sense or sanity of this. Training in the extreme temperatures usually leaves one sick and weak for at least a day or two, so right there you get behind on your training.

My first half marathon way back when is a vivid reminder of the long-term effects on me of training or racing in extreme temperatures. I was pretty much at the peak of my running days, and ran most days at lunch time or later, so I was used to the heat and ran fast (1:50 for a half). Race day was cool at the start, but the course itself started in town and ran out to Lake Michigan, through the dunes and trails, and then back to town on the only road leading to and from the lake and town. Basically, no shade for 5.5 miles. I started out at my usual breakneck 7 miles per hour pace, but by the time I reached this point in the race, I was dragging big time. Not only had I gone out way too fast for the later race conditions, but with water stops only every 2 miles at best (and at that time I was oblivious to the importance of pacing and hydrating properly), I was actually getting quite sick feeling. Add to that, I had to use a bathroom, as what usually happens to me is stomach cramps in heat and hard racing, and there were none anywhere. Forget about going into the bushes or somewhere. We were running down a road paved between the sand dunes, and as I said, no shade to be had.

By the time I reached mile 12, as a sick joke someone had turned the mile marker around to read 2 miles. I didn't know whether it meant 2 more miles to go or the 2 mile mark! I was feeling so miserable I wanted to hit the person. How I finished the race at the pace I ended up with is beyond me. I was sick the rest of the day, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps. A day at the beach that followed was spent mostly in the porta-john, as well as on the 2 hour ride home.

The point here though is that because of putting myself in an extreme situation, even though technically I was accustomed to extreme conditions and well trained besides, for at least the next 2 months I could not run more than 2 miles at a time without the stomach cramps and diarrhea coming on. And to this day, I think I am still affected because of this, although I admit I am not as well trained or heat conditioned. Its almost something I can't put myself through anymore.

So people, while it is good to be ready for anything on race day, I really don't believe you are doing yourself any favors by exposing yourself to extreme conditions all the time. I seriously can't believe that even if you do, and the chance race day conditions are the same, that you will be the better for it. Anyway, off the soapbox, and safe training.

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