Monday, July 5, 2010

Hot (and Humid) Weather Running

After getting a little carried away with speed the past week, with a 5 mile race on Sunday, a fast 6x800 workout on Tuesday and an impromptu 5:30 mile in front of some high schoolers on Wednesday, I was in desperate need of some slow double digit mileage runs over the weekend to get my aerobic base back to where it needed to be. As appealing as races, tempo runs, and track work seem to be to my body right now, I am training for a marathon here, not a 5K sprint, so the speed must take a back seat to endurance and stamina.

So I did as the great minds of Pfitzinger and Daniels have suggested, and got in a fifteen mile run around three city parks on Saturday, followed by an Independence Day eleven (7+4=11, get it?) mile run in and through a former US Army installation in Whitestone Queens on Sunday morning. Although I ran slow (both at about a minute slower than marathon pace), and had great scenery to accompany each of my runs, I didn’t feel great on either of them. I was honestly questioning my sanity and whether I was cut out to be a distance runner after each run. Maybe I should just stick to the track and the short road races. Maybe it’s a sign.

Or maybe it’s the sweating heat and the suffocating humidity that’s been cooking the Northeast like it’s a flank steak over a summer barbecue. I was stupid to start my run at high noon on Saturday (had no choice really because I was at work all morning) but was smart to get up at 7:30am for my Sunday run. It made no difference however. The average temperature was still the same at 87F! I couldn’t believe it. All through my miles, all I could see were people sunbathing on a beach, skinny dipping by a pool or barbecuing by the ocean and making fun of me as I try to fight a drawn out losing battle against the sun. What an idiot, they must be thinking as they see me passing by soaking wet with dripping sweat and a look of sheer agony on my face. The worst part was, with the horrid conditions I was running under, I really couldn’t blame them for making fun of me.

That got me thinking: Is it time to think about the treadmill again? Yes, I know it sounds blasphemous, and I abhor the thought of running for miles and miles staring at inanimate objects or figures moving across a TV screen during the summer, but when not running is not an option and to save my pedestrian friends the embarrassment of watching me suffer in this oppressive heat, is that not enough justification enough to take the run indoors. Besides, if you can run better and train faster on a treadmill, isn’t that more beneficial than running hot and slow outdoors, especially if you’re training for a long distance race in cooler and milder conditions? Acclimating to weather is one thing, but constantly being forced to run slow because of unfavorable weather conditions is quite another. Maybe for speed development, it would be more advantageous to train indoor than out simply because you wouldn’t be able to attain the same training intensity in inclement weather. I don’t know. But I’m definitely having second thoughts about the treadmill. Maybe it’s time for the hamster wheel and I to get reacquainted. Maybe the previous vilification was unjustified. I may have to apologize.

But first I’d like to survey the crowd on how best to deal with running and training in extreme heat. Run in early morning (when it tends to be insanely humid)? Run in late afternoon/early evening (when it tends to still be hot)? Or succumb to the comforts of air conditioning and run indoors? What do you think? What do you do? I'm open to suggestions.

17 comments:

B.o.B. said...

Being a Floridian, I pretty much succomb to the heat. I'll ocassionally throw in a short treadmill run but for the most part we try to run early for our long runs (to beat the heat) and run the same time in the evenings. Track has been a scorcher lately so I know how you feel about the heat! I saw it was record highs in the NE right now and I feel for you!

marathonmaiden said...

the heat and humidity are suppose to be bad this week. bummer. as awful as the treadmill can be i think it's useful in terms of building up some mental stamina. i mean, if you can handle a LR on the thing then a marathon might seem a bit easier.

Lisa said...

Um, yes, I think that the less than stellar runs you had were due to this nasty heat. And yes, I think this week is going to be one of those weeks that it's time to throw in the towel and jump on the treadmill. I know, I'm not actually running again yet, but the air quality and high heat is not going to do you any good! This is extreme weather, just hot, rather than freezing cold. Take care of yourself!

GeorgiaSnail said...

You gotta get out early and get your miles in before the mercury rises....under no condition should(I) run on a dreadmill....

runner26 said...

it's really hard to run in the heat!!! (like i need to tell you that ;)) besides being a totally awful experience, i'm not sure running in this severe heat is really good for training (though what do i know). but i do know that you can't perform as well as you could with cooler weather, so to run a decent training run, you have to push your body more than usual. this can't be good. i'd give the treadmill a go for the next couple days. when temps are back to the 80s (this weekend!) then outside it is. just my two cents ;)

Lauren said...

I run before sunrise (here in Orlando, FL) but it's still tough.. Im' still swimming in my own sweat by the end. But I'd take low 80's and high humidity rather than high 80's and low humididity. It's mid to high eighties an hour after sunrise here so I usually start long runs around 4:00am-4:30am and finish within an hour of sunrise.

If I can't get out there before sunrise I'll hit the treadmill. It's counterproductive to run stupidly slow because of the weather in my opinion unless you're training for a desert marathon :D

Running and living said...

I hate the heat. Saturday was nice around here and I was glad I got my long run in that day. Sunday and today, awful. I typically run in the morning, except for Tue and Wed, when I run mid day and pray for cooler temps...COngrats on your recent fast running. Is there a marathon in your near future?

John said...

I'll be interested in your conclusions, Lam.

I suspect a mixture of slower running outside to acclimate to the heat and keep the muscles, joints, and connective tissue used to the stress of running on a hard surface and tempo runs on the treadmill might make the best compromise. I ran all on the treadmill all winter - and it deceived me into thinking I was running faster than I was when I returned to pavement.

Now that it has gotten hotter, my socks get soaked outside and I'm having trouble with blisters. Perhaps that would go away on the treadmill. I had been running early, hitting the road at 5 a.m., and that delayed the problems. Today I ran with my group at 8 a.m. and it was miserable. We'll see how it is between 5 and 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Jack Sprat said...

Lam, when my husband and I were shopping in SoHo this weekend, here's what I noticed: We'd go in a store and it was FRIGID. Then we'd go outside and it was SWELTERING. Frigid. Sweltering. Frigid. Sweltering. Over and over. If you live and work in an air-conditioned environment, then I don't know how your body should be expected to acclimate to sudden two hour runs in the brutal heat. While I personally cannot STAND running on the treadmill, I do think it might be necessary to do so when it's 90+ outside. Of course....your mileage may vary!

Chris said...

I live in Bakersfield, CA so I am lucky to have a dry heat. I prefer to run in the morning when it's cool but my work schedule and family life don't allow it so I have found great success with running at night right when the sun goes down. I think the heat is bearable as long as the UV index is low. It's the constant beating of the sun that tires me out. I have posted some great paces when it's still mid 90's but no sun beating down on me. YMMV - http://www.milesissmiles.com

Ansky said...

Running early in the morning seems to work for me. As an asthmatic, speed and tempo runs are hardest for me when it's hot and humid. I usually end up doing my speed and tempo run inside on the treadmill and my recovery and long runs outside.

Greg said...

Lam, I've never seen a day where it is too hot or humid to run if you get out in the predawn (like 4:00 AM). I know that's not for some, but it works for me. Granted, I run in the winter at that time too, but it is the only way to survive the summer without resorting to a treadmill (which I refuse to do).

carpeviam said...

I used to run in the early morning when I lived in Colorado. But, we didn't have the humidity to contend with. I'd still say early morning or the 'mill. And I loathe the 'mill!

J said...

I usually always run in the heat - although I never apply this rule to winter running. I just deal with the humidity since I am running at 5am. i guess the humidity is better than the heat?

Kathy said...

I don't really have a choice - I have to run in what I've got. My normal 6am temps are 29C with 88% starting in March and ending in December. That is doable but today's run at 24C (raining) was AMAZING. I guess if the heat and humidity are such a blockage for you, you should treadmill it.

Jamie said...

The training in the heat could be beneficial since you are training for Chicago and 2 out of the last 3 years it was 80+ degrees marathon day ;) I hate the treadmill so much that I will do my best, no matter how slow my best is, in the heat in humidity. good luck figuring out what works best for you this training cycle!

sRod said...

I feel the humidity is more forgiving than the straight up heat. I'd shoot for morning and avoid the treadmill at all costs (save it for the winter and rain storms).

 
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