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.
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!