The results are in! Thanks to all who participated in my extreme summer weather running survey. Before I announce the findings of my impromptu survey, let me just say that I tried to make this exercise as scientific as possible, by giving a full point to the option that was exclusively preferred by a voter and a half point to the options that weren't exclusively preferred. I think that's only fair. So without any further ado, here's what you all recommend to do when faced with the prospect of having to run during the current heat wave:
Run Early Morning - 10 votes
Run Late/Night - 1 vote
Treadmill It - 5 votes
Interesting, huh? My unrandomized uncontrolled scientific study shows that the overwhelming majority of you would rather wake up at some god-forsaken hour (like 4 or 5am), before even when all the nocturnal animals have turned in yet, to go run than suffer the ignominy of running in place on the treadmill despite the comforts of air-conditioning and cable television. But even that option seemed way better than running outdoors late at night, which I imagined is impractical and inconvenient for most runners. Also, no one picked the option of not running, which, although not explicitly stated as an option, is probably what the rest of the non-running world would have unanimously picked. As a whole, I find the results of this study rather fascinating because it highlights how much we are willing to put up with and how dedicated we are to the sport of running...and how much we hate running on the treadmill!
So as recommended, I got up on successive days (yesterday and today) at 5AM for my first early morning runs of 2010. Now let me confess right here that I've never been much of a morning person. Yes, I am usually up early for work on most days, and generally have no problem waking up early for the occasional weekend race but getting up in the dead of night (which I consider anytime before sunrise) for training runs is not really my cup of tea. For one thing, I find that I have to rearrange my entire eating and sleeping schedule to accommodate pre-daylight running. Not only so, but I find that I'm not up and rearing to go run in the early morning like I am when I run after work in the late afternoon. Maybe it's a matter of personal preference. Maybe it's a matter of establishing a habit. I figured I could try for a week or so and see what evolves.
My Tuesday morning tempo run (11 total miles with 6 at 6:37 min/mi) went well despite it being 87F with 50% humidity at 5AM). I struggled during the latter half of the tempo miles more due to the heat than to the effort, but otherwise surprised myself that I was able to get this one done on a day that hit triple digits on the thermometer. This morning, I took it easy and ran a recovery run of 6 miles at a slow 7:31 min/mi pace. The temperature was essentially the same except that the humidity was about 20% less than yesterday, which made conditions much more favorable for running. I ended the workout with some easy 6 x 100m strides which my legs liked after all the slow stuff. The only complaint I have about both of these runs was that it took me more than one-and-half miles of warmup before my body got moving and my pace felt comfortable. My legs felt like they were entirely asleep for the whole first half of the run! What's up with that? Eventually, everyone got with the program and we were running well again, but geez, this early morning running is no joke!
I'll wait to see how the legs respond tomorrow (rest day) and the next day before making a further assessment of my early morning running experiment. Anybody out there have any pointers on this transitioning process? Any pitfalls to avoid? Stories to share? Or maybe I'm just a wimp...(No, don't answer that last question and no, this is not another survey!)
Hope everyone in blogland is staying cool during these hot summer days and running well despite the heat by whatever method you employ. I'll check in with you all this weekend after my scheduled long run of 17+ miles. Yikes! I pray it'll be cooler by then.