You picked the wrong sport.
Because there was no last Thursday of the month blog post last month, there will be none this month, and I’m incredibly busy at the moment, I’m going to slip a recap in here. There’s a lot I’ve been reading. Here’s some of it.
One note: I mentioned I’m going to slip more than just sports science links into these posts going forward. I’m going to feature something that is not sports science this month.Continue reading “What to do after a breakthrough?”
No, this isn’t a “Why do you run?” post. I know as well as you how difficult it is to answer that question. What I would like to ask is how you prioritize your running goals.
Why do I want to ask this question? Because I got myself in trouble recently when I tried to have it all. I hurt myself simply because I was unwilling to give in on anything.Continue reading “What are you running for?”
Summer is here! Or so we hope here in Wisconsin. It’s time for vacations, beach time, camping, and all kinds of outdoor fun!
It’s also time for the summer racing season, big workouts to prepare for those races while working through the heat and humidity, and all the other running considerations.
We all think of winter as the challenging and dangerous season for runners but there are challenges and safety considerations we need to keep in mind during the summer also. As well as the adjustments that we need to make not for our safety but to ensure we’re getting the most out of our summer time training.
Note: Some of what I say below may sound like medical advice. It is NOT meant as such. I am not a medical professional. I am just stating common suggestions for dealing with issues you might face while running in the summer. If you have any health related questions or concerns about your health, please seek the advice of a medical professional.
Pace: slow down
For most runners, ideal running weather is somewhere around 50-60 degrees (about 10-15 Celsius) with low humidity. When it gets cooler, you don’t slow down drastically but you do have to dress for it. When it gets warmer and/or more humid, there’s only so much you can do to dress for it. After that, the heat and humidity stress your body and you must slow down or pay the consequences.
Especially as the temperatures climb through the 70s and 80s (about the 20s Celsius), the stress on your body increases rapidly and you need to slow down or you will push your body too far.
What can we do about this? Slow down. Unfortunately, there’s not much else there is to do. I always remind myself that my paces will slow in the summer but they will come back strong in September and October as the temperatures get closer to ideal again.
If you’re racing in the summer, that’s fine but understand that it might be better to compete against other runners than against the clock. Even then, understand that some people are less affected by the heat than others. There are things you can do to mitigate the effects (hydrate, train in the heat to adapt to it, etc.) but there is only so much you can do. Don’t get upset about things out of your control. Believe in yourself and the process and know that things will get better as the weather cools.
Hydration should always be a focus for runners. Most people walk around in at least a mild state of dehydration all the time. Runners are more susceptible because we are out there sweating. Add in higher sweat rates due to the heat and we’re even more susceptible.
The best form of hydration most of the time is water. You don’t generally need sports drinks or other “hydration” drinks. Water will work just fine.
The one exception might be on long runs. Unless you’re doing an extreme long run, you don’t necessarily need calories as you should have enough fuel in your body before the start of a long run to fuel the run. However, you’ll be sweating out a lot of electrolytes, primarily sodium – salt, and it can be a little risky to replace just water without also replacing those electrolytes.
Note on hydration
Don’t go overboard! Current recommendations are to drink to thirst. As you may have noticed over the past several years, there have been some cases of hyponatremia going around the running community.
Some people think of hyponatremia as an over hydration issue and it largely is. Most people who have suffered it simply took in far more fluids than they needed. However, the actual health concern is an imbalance of nutrients.
There is some evidence that taking sports drink or electrolyte tablets will reduce the risk of hyponatremia by keeping nutrient balance better in check. However, the most proven effective way to reduce the risk is to drink to thirst.
Overheating is a real concern, especially on our hard days, whether races, long runs, or workouts.
The best ways to minimize the risk of overheating are to slow down and run in the early morning or late evening.
Pay attention to how you respond to the weather and what conditions hit you the hardest. Early morning is cooler than late evening but it’s also more humid. If you suffer in the humidity but do fine in dry heat, evening running may work better for you. If you can handle the humidity but not the heat, morning runs might help you out.
If you do start feeling overheated, find a shady spot, get some cool fluids if you can, and rest. If you stop sweating on a hot day, this is a sign of a serious problem and you should do all you can to cool down as quickly as possible.
Finally, be aware of the amount of sun exposure you’re getting. Vitamin D is great but we don’t need much sun to cover our bases there. Skin cancer is not great. Again, running in early mornings and late evenings is the best way to reduce your sun exposure. If you do need to run in the middle of the day, get a good sweat resistant sunscreen and look for shade if possible.
Running in the summer is great! I wouldn’t give it up for anything, other than maybe a crisp October day. I hope you enjoy your runs this summer. As you do, also make sure you get the most out of your runs while staying safe. Keep cool and have a great summer!
When you’re looking to improve, where should you go first?
Given my training history, which I’ve shared very publicly over the years, you might think I’d say do more.
If you did, though, you’d be wrong. I did more, a lot more at times, but not until I focused on doing things “better”.Continue reading “Before doing more, do it better”
Do you remember when you first started running? You could do no wrong. You got better no matter what you did, even if you know now that it wasn’t very sound training.
Now, if you’re an experienced runner, every bit of improvement takes a monumental effort.Continue reading “The clean slate phenomenon”
Back in the 1990s, a lot of runners talked about running at VO2max pace or lactate threshold pace or some other specific pace. We were told that you needed to run at that specific pace in order to get the best benefit from a workout. If you ran between these magical paces, you were putting in extra effort for no added benefit.
How right were we about those things, though?Continue reading “There are no magic paces (or black holes)”
A couple of weeks ago, I ran my first half marathon in 14 years.
Why did I go 14 years without running a half marathon? After the race, I was thinking out loud about that while talking with some people and I think I came upon the most likely reason: I’m having trouble adjusting to getting slower.
Take a lesson from me: when your PRs are in the past, don’t do what I did. As hard as it is, accept that and keep challenging yourself.Continue reading “Are your PRs in the past?”
Spring is such a great time to be a runner. After putting in the work through the frigid weather, snow and ice, we get clear roads and trails and perfect temperatures! How can a runner not be excited for spring to come?
Just be careful about how excited you get about spring.Continue reading “Spring is here! Don’t get too excited”
These days, the hacker culture is all around us. How to do more with less. It sounds great, doesn’t it?
No surprise, the hacker culture has also made its way into the running world. From things that have been around for a long time, such as couch to marathon in 12 weeks, to people promising you can get as much aerobic conditioning in 10 minutes as you can in an hour long easy run.
Does the hacker culture really work with running, though?Continue reading “Running and the hacker culture”