CCM: Summer Fun in the Sun?

Last night’s banana bread cook-off was a success, and the half pound uptick in my weight could conceivably be totally unrelated.

Ruth and I are going up to Gloucester on Saturday to help with the timing for the Blackburn Challenge, an open-water 20 mile race around Cape Ann for human-powered boats. That means we won’t be able to do our usual Saturday morning runs.

I decided to do my easy Sunday morning bike ride this morning and my planned Saturday run on Sunday. My legs were dragging a little bit as I rode, but it was a bunny day so I must’ve made the right choice. That’s two tired days in a row – I might be doing a little too much biking.  We’ll see how I feel on Sunday after taking Saturday off from exercise.

Ruth’s schedule is less flexible. She didn’t have time to do a longer run this morning, and she wants to do the easy Sunday run with her cohort, so she had to decide between running tonight or trying to squeeze her run in on Saturday morning before the Blackburn.

I’d probably run in Gloucester.  It’d be cooler in the morning, and I could jump in the ocean after my run.  But following the run up with a long day of helping out at the race sounded less fun to Ruth, so she decided to run tonight instead. The downside to that choice is that Ruth will be running in the heat of the late afternoon sun.

Of course, if you’re going to train for a marathon in the summer that sort of thing is going to happen from time to time. We haven’t had many nasty hazy, hot, and humid days yet this summer but we have had a string of sunny, dry weather, perfect for the beach, but tough for running.

Training through the summer for a fall marathon is hard, but I still like it a lot better than training in the winter for a spring marathon. Hot weather running can be brutal, but if I make it through all the training, the weather for my marathon will almost certainly be better than what I trained in. Even with global warming, it’s still going to be cooler on Cape Cod in October than it will be for Ruth’s run this afternoon. But if I have a hot day for a marathon in April (like we did for Boston this year), the misery is doubled because I’m totally unprepared for it after winter, no matter how much I bundle up when I run.

It’s important to keep in mind that cooler days are coming, especially when I’m out there sweating in the July sun. I need whatever inspiration I can dig up to keep me moving when the hot air turns into a heavy, stifling, blanket weighing me down. And I have to be careful and watch out for excessive dehydration and the possibility of heatstroke, especially on my long runs. I need to find a way to keep pushing hard, just not too hard.

Beyond the physical problems, the heat can make it tough to keep my confidence up. When it’s warm I have to work harder to run just as fast as I do in more moderate temperatures. Inevitably, my training runs slow down.  If I enter any races, my race times don’t compare to the times I ran just a couple months ago in the spring. If I don’t keep the right perspective, the heat can make me feel like my plan must be wrong and I’m wasting my time, or even that the plan is OK, but I’m just not training hard enough. I have to remember that it’s the heat, not me.

But if I’m patient, stick to my plan and trust my training, when the fall comes and the weather cools off, magic happens. Suddenly, it’s clear that all my training has paid off.  I’m faster than I was before, even faster than those lost halcyon days of spring. And when my marathon finally arrives, I’m ready to roll.

Trust me.  Have faith in the summer, find a way to keep going through the heat, and you’ll collect the rewards in the fall.

(16 mi. bike; 149.5#)

Update: Ruth came home early from work so she could run, but the 90 degree heat convinced her to put it off until evening.  Flexibility is a good thing.

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