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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heating It Up!
I am currently in the final phases of heat training, which seems to be this year's version of minimalist training. As if to say, "Yeah, I run barefoot too, BUT- I do it on melting asphalt with my A Christmas Story snowsuit on."

I don't run barefoot. I do wear flats for 95% of my miles and while things haven't quite reached desert conditions here in Boone, NC... last week we did experience temperatures around the 90 degree mark, which is our version of August around here.

Now is the chance for you "hot weather" runners to scoff at me! Remember when I was laughing at your 1 inch snow men and 31 degree brutal winter runs?? Well, for every season turn, turn turn! You have to sink directly into the conditions.

Into the Kitchen
The next biggie on my schedule is a third visit to the Chattooga 50k, a measuring stick for my annual fitness level and was my first 50k, 3 years ago. This year though, RD Terri Hayes decided to give us a bonus challenge and move the event 3 weeks later into June. Not only will we encounter the roots and rocky terrain of the Chattooga River watershed, with an estimated 13,000 feet of total elevation change but now... as we all know, this year temperatures have been about 5% above average across this area of the country. This translates into past year's temps of 85ish to potential for 95ish on race day... and here in Boone, we've seen 90... only twice...

So, I can either hope in one hand for an anomalous cool day and pack my mittens and beanie OR... I can prepare for the likely conditions.

The 6 P's of Training (Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance)
Would you plan for a year, putting in countless hours of trail running, racing; redesign your diet, cut out (most of) your empty calories in preparation for training, search out the areas most difficult terrain to mimic your race course and then... not take note of environmental factors? Well, if you did, you'd be setting yourself up for failure...

With a bit of anxiety over the expected conditions at Chattooga this year, I ran along this spring searching out the warmest portions of the day. I planned my long runs in the middle of the day on weekends, never running shirtless, the warmer the day- the longer the run. That simple. When locals were searching for ceiling fans and bathing suits I was headed out to 80 minutes of exposure and heat management.

It is hard- sometimes I think... "this. is stupid."
This approach is aggressive, and not something I would recommend, but I do believe it is working for me. I know these temperatures are mild compared to those training for events like Badwater... but, this is individual and for me at this point in my running this feels extreme to my cooling system. I am sure to drink plenty of fluids but I don't allow myself to dip into the creek during my runs or stop in the shade... I just keep moving, slowly at times- but I keep moving.

When I finish up 12 miles, wring out my now ten pound shirt and wait for evaporative cooling to take its effect I sit thinking back to a quote I read earlier this spring in UltraRUNNING Magazine, "you must sweat in training before you bleed in battle."

With just a little exposure I have found that I can balance my heat output with small changes in effort. Just like when I under dress in January and am forced to blast a hilly run to stay warm, now I have to dole out my energy more conservatively and provide the most important ingredient to success, water, in large volumes.

Nuun better
Plain water is NOT enough though- we need to remember that our bodies are little chemistry sets and that we require balance between water and mineral levels. For that reason (and for the goodness of the flavor) I drop in a Nuun tablet to every other water bottle during and after my runs on these hot days.

Nuun tastes great, doesn't sour the stomach and encourages fluid consumption. This year Nuun has tons of new flavors in addition to the many stand by favorites. So visit Nuun online or to your local retailer to find your new favorite!!

I will have a Nuun giveaway upcoming for followers of In Clean Air, so get following and keep posted for your chance at staying happy and hydrated this summer!

Happy Running!!


  1. I'm with you Sean. I've been acclimatizing for the past 3 weeks or so, just so I can continue to run through the hot, muggy NC lowland summer. I'm now convinced that you really have to put in a concerted effort to really acclimate to heat.

  2. looks like you are finding smart ways to embrace your next race! well thought out and planned:)...happy running to you too :)

  3. I'm sort of acclimating by waking up earlier. We are on our 14th consecutive day of 90+, not to mention the smog Code Orange alert. Plus I can take the dog out and try to make him less crazy.

  4. Heat is tough for me. I simply don't run enough in it and wonder how the cats in the warm climates do it. 15 miles and under? No problem. Over 15? I can't get enough fluids. I'd like to run with one of those I.V. carts but they keep tipping over when they hit a stone.

  5. My friend/your sister, Stephanie, suggested I post a question I have to you. If you have time to give your thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

    Here's my scoop & question in a nutshell:
    I'm nearly 40 & trying to run again. (Yes, doc says I'm healthy enough to go for it.) I'm starting slowly since it's been about 15 years. When I was in great running shape I lived in New England, now I live in the Sunshine State. My neighborhood is quite hilly like the north but since it gets so hot (100*), I try to go out in the mornings. I prefer barefoot running, I wear five fingers. I'm beginning by alternating walk/run for distances of 2-3 miles. Cardio is fine but I have a lot of tightness in my outer shin area (?). I've had shin splints in the past that hurt on the inner side - I dealt with them with ice & rest, should I do the same for this or are there particular stretches I should do? (My warm up/cool down is usually swimming or biking)


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