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It's getting hot, and I'm getting slow

Posted May 29 2008 11:02am
No matter how much I lay off the wine the night before, no matter how much I hydrate during, I have found no magic remedy to run in the heat.

A lot of runners have ideas about it, like those over at the Runners Lounge who are participating in discussions about running in the heat. Lately, the scientists over at the Science of Sport blog have shed some interesting insight into, well, the science of running in the heat.

They are using a lot of big words and heavy terminology, but basically, what they are saying is this: Your body anticipates how good you feel, how long you are running, how fast you are running, and how hot it is outside and automatically helps you control your pace in either a race or a training run.

And, the scientist say, this all happens before you’ve run very far. Something about your brain taking all of this information and activating enough muscle fiber for you to do your workout.

And because this happens before you’ve run 1 mile, your slow pace has to do with -- get this -- your body’s anticipatory regulation.

In other words, your body knows when you’ll start to feel like shit before you start feeling like shit and it helps you slow your pace so you can do your entire workout.

People who get heat strokes ignore their bodies’ cues and keep going harder and harder and longer and longer distances, or so the scientists say.

Anyway, the only way to get better at running in the heat is to run in the heat, say the experts, and I believe them. During my 6- and 7-mile tempo runs in the cool mornings of March and April, I could easily run under 8-minute miles. This month, especially the last two weeks, it has been 70 to 75 degrees in the mornings, and I’ve had to slow down to 8:30, sometimes 9:00 miles to finish.

And I know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. If you run into me on the Trinity Trials in the July or August, I’ll be shuffling along on long runs at a 10:30 or 11:00 mile clip.

My advice: Run slow, hydrate (but not too much), and don't be too proud to walk some.
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