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.