I think one of my friends summed it up with his Strava title today: “Running out of things to say about the humidity.” It’s his first summer in Louisville, and the Ohio River Valley is merciless. It is hot. It is humid. It is unrelentingly miserable. It’s 80* and 90% humidity when you wake up because it’s light at 6:15 a.m.; it’s 95* but feels like 105* and there are no clouds and it’s still light at 9:30 p.m.
Suffice it to say, it’s a tough part of the year. When it feels like I’m running in a sauna, I just think about those first few 45* degree mornings in the fall when everything will be right in the world and all of a sudden I’ll be clipping along a minute per mile faster and feeling like I’m flying.
That’s what I think about, dream about, as the sweat rolls down my face 1 mile into a Tuesday workout warm up.
Monday was an easy 6 miles, 73* and 73% humidity, so really not too bad comparatively. I did about 12 minutes of drills after. In the afternoon, I hopped on the indoor rower for 2k before teaching Advanced Pilates.
Sleep won on Tuesday in part because when I woke up at 5:45 and looked at the weather (admit it: who else checks it before getting out of bed???) — it was already 78* and really humid. I decided I wasn’t having any of that. The high for the day was only around 90, so it wasn’t going to get much worse and I could always treadmill it. Plus early morning speedwork is never pretty.
So instead I went at 5:45 p.m., when it was, in fact, 90*. But the humidity dropped so the index was only 91* and the wind was like 15 mph. I had a doozy of a workout, though. Warm up then 4×800 with 200 jog, then 5 minutes easy, 2 mile tempo (85% max HR), 5 minutes easy, 4×400 with 200 jog, cool down. Yeowch. That’s 5 miles of effort, if you weren’t counting along.
The 800s were solid — 3:10, 3:06, 3:05, 3:03 — but the 2 mile tempo was a complete bust. Could not find that gear. Heart rate was where it needed to be but it was like running in molasses. The original notes from coach had called for 2-4 800s and 2-4 400s, and during the tempo those extra 400s were looking awfully endangered. But, I persevered and they were actually not too bad. Quarters are not my favorite workout distance but I did them on the road instead of the track (entire workout, actually) which helped: 1:35, 1:37, 1:36, 1:33.
I finished with Hammer Recoverite and sitting in the pool at the gym. Not cold enough to count as an ice bath but cold enough to get my core temperature back down.
After I sent coach a series of skull and fire emoji, he wrote back the next day.
“I called off the dogs for most people and had them only do two 800s. Including Jesse Davis by the way.” Jesse Davis, Olympic Trials marathoner finisher who turned around to win Carmel for the sixth year two months later. “So you get points right away for four. Bottom line? This is how you build the perfect beast that people don’t want to race!”
“Build the beast” is one of my ongoing mantras. Some days it is “build the machine” or “train the machine,” some variation thereof. I try to think of my body as a tool that my brain is giving instructions to — instead of letting my body dictate what’s happening. The body has a remarkable sense of self-preservation and will send your brain signals to back off long before you actually need to. Learning when those signals are BS is a crucial piece of improvement physically and mentally.
Now, that said, I’m not saying don’t listen to your body — it does tell you very important things. Run long enough and you can usually tell the difference between soreness and injury — even when you’re lying to yourself about it, you know the truth. It also tells you when you need more sleep or more calories or maybe a few less calories or any number of other things.
But sometimes your body fibs to you. And you have to learn how to call it out. Tuesday was one of those days.
Wednesday was a not-as-bad-as-expected early run with a friend at Floyd’s Fork. I also walked to get tea later on at work, then rowed 2k at the gym and taught Pilates.
Thursday is my mini-workout day. Usually it is turnover-based, something a little shorter and quicker but not too taxing. This one was 30 minutes of continuous hills, a workout I’ve enjoyed the past few times. The Thursday variation is at an easy pace; there’s a Tuesday variation at steady-state pace. There aren’t really any good hills for this workout by my house; normally I do this at Seneca/Cherokee. I’ve run several different loops trying to come up with a good one but nothing’s been quite right. The idea is that you’re just running hills for 30 minutes, counting the up and down but nothing flat. My other loops have had flat sections connecting different hill sections, which was okay but not ideal.
So I went to Seneca Thursday and got in 2.3 miles easy, and arrived at the base of the Old Cannons hill loop. This is a great neighborhood loop with little traffic, just a big U off a side road. One side is short and steep, the other is longer and more gradual. I decided I would start there and run it a few times, maybe 15 minutes, then head elsewhere.
When I was warming up, I saw two guys coming around the Seneca loop moving pretty quickly, but I didn’t recognize them. Once I got close to the hill, I saw them going up the steep side — I was going to start on the long side so I could get a little more warm up in. As I got there and stopped to stretch, the guys were coming down.
Guy 1: “Are you ready for a hill workout?” Big smile, harmless, kidding around. Don’t recognize him.
Me: “Oh, no, I’m just doing 30 minutes of easy hills. Easy. Very easy.”
They turn around to head back up.
Guy 2: Laughs. “My only pace is easy pace!”
I laugh back, assuming they’re doing full-out hill repeats — push hard going up, recover really slow down the other side, turn around, repeat. I was trying to maintain a pretty steady but easy pace, so my HR would go up to maybe 85% by the top of the hill but nothing too crazy.
First one I start a little behind them since I didn’t want to get dragged along faster. Maintained about the same distance through the recovery and second uphill (their third). Then … I caught them. Guy 2 first, but Guy 1 was hands-on-knees at the top of the hill waiting as I coasted back down. I put a bit of ground on them on the recovery, and I was already about 10-15 feet into the up when Guy 1 passed me.
“What about this is easy?” he asked.
I laughed. Amicably, I swear.
They did one more rep after that one and left.
I did 5 more.
Build the beast, baby.
Then it was back to teaching Pilates Strength that evening, which is a fun but hard class. Also, I grabbed one 2 lb. weight and one 3 lb. Rookie move, TG. Also, for anyone that smirks or laughs at the light weights we use in Pilates Strength? Check the pic. I don’t lift. I row occasionally (4k this week but the first time in like a month), but otherwise my three Pilates classes are all I do for strength training. I don’t lift.
Friday was another sleep-in day. I blame the hubs for this one. He has a half-Ironman July 9 so this was his peak training week. He got home late and then wanted to go out for a booze slushy with dinner, so we were out kind of late. But I think I managed to get like 9 hours of sleep which is amazing.
I was really torn between outside and inside running that afternoon, but in the end, television and a break from the heat won out. I had read a post about television shows to binge watch on the treadmill by Dorothy Beal (@mileposts) on Women’s Running and then recently realized one of the shows, Orphan Black, is on Amazon Video. I watched the first episode and I’m hooked. I’ll probably have to treadmill it one day a week so I can indulge!
This gives me a chance to air a pet peeve: running outside in bad weather doesn’t make you a superior runner. There’s nothing wrong with running on the treadmill. Would I rather run outside? Every second, and the more trees and trail, the better. But sometimes the weather stinks, or sometimes you want to be able to crank out a workout without having to stop for traffic or water, or sometimes you need the motivation of music or television. Should you run every day on the treadmill? Probably not, especially if you’re training for a race (unless it’s a race on the treadmill, in which case, go for it). But to judge people who run inside as somehow inferior? Please. I’m as much a “real runner” as anybody else who puts on their sneaks and puts one foot in front of another faster than they do to walk to the fridge. Relax and let people run how they want. Let’s just all be happy that we’re able to run and encourage others to do so.
Okay. So that was Friday. I ran on the treadmill and I liked it. I had fans and water and a towel and Orphan Black.
I kept it super easy Friday because I knew Saturday would have my ass if I didn’t. I should’ve started even earlier … but sleep. The mileage and long days are really taking their toll and I’m squeezing in (out?) every drop of sleep I can.
Coach had 14-16 miles on the schedule, easy pace. I did 15 two weeks ago (last week was shorter with speed) so I figured I’d do 16 unless it was a total disaster of a day. 68* and humid at the start; 79* by the end. Not much breeze, and I tried to stay in the shade as much as I could.
I started with a Hammer Gel 15 minutes before plus two of their Endurolyte tabs. I had another Endurolyte tab at 30 minutes in, then another plus another Hammer Gel at 7.5, plus two more Endurolyte tabs at mile 11.
I had trouble finding my groove … mostly because my groove seemed to be slower than I wanted it to be. Just relax, go with the flow, get it done. I ended up doing 17 because I overshot the distance and I felt fine — felt like I could run for a really long time … just not very fast!
As soon as I was finished, I had Hammer Recoverite and foam rolled in the parking lot. I have a Trigger Point Performance Therapy GRID mini roller that I keep in my gym bag.
Sunday morning I was back out at Floyd’s Fork with Rebekah, just for 3 miles. Coach has been giving me the option of Sunday being a flex/cross train/rest day, and I was only going to run if she wanted to. So we ran most of it nice and easy on a trail, then walked back.
Totals: 56 miles running, 4k rowing, 2.26 miles walked, 2:45 of Pilates. Racing a 5k July 2!
I appreciate what you said about the treadmill…I can’t run in this heat and humidity, and since I’m a recreational runner, not a competitive one, I use my treadmill quite a bit when the weather is this miserable. If I still raced, certainly I would make sure I were acclimated to this weather, as i have before, but for someone like me, it’s not necessary.
That Tuesday workout sounds killer ! I don’t think it matters that your tempo pace was slow, because if your heart rate was in the zone you were still getting the benefit of the workout. Good luck with the 5k on Saturday!
Agreed! Definitely not something I’m going to stress about. The concept was to work through different racing gears, and that downshifting may be one I need to work on … but in terms of pacing, it was 90*. My main goal was to survive! And, thanks — we’ll see how it goes!