Heat has never been my favorite. I do love summer but fall is always the best time of year in my book. If asked my thoughts on "perfect" running temperatures I'd undoubtedly answer somewhere in the mid to high 40s. I don't particularly enjoy life without AC when it's really hot (which makes our hot house somewhat challenging...but I'm learning to deal). And I'm almost positive I couldn't live in the south (my parents live in South Carolina and that humidity in the summer is just STIFLING!).
But yet, I chose the sport of triathlon? And worse yet I made it my goal to get to Kona? Yes I know, poor choice. :)
Over the years I've certainly adapted to training and racing in the heat and gotten better at it. I don't think physically my body is any different than most people's when it comes to the heat - I can do just fine. It's just that I don't *like* the heat (more specifically, I don't like to run in the heat).
So along with a committment to getting more sleep for the next several months (which is going pretty well by the way), I've made a committment to embracing the heat a bit more prior to Kona.
Let's step back to last year. I fretted and frittered all summer/early fall about how I would handle the heat in Kona. It seriously kept me up at night sometimes. I had heard the stories and seen the tv coverage and worried endlessly about melting in the lava fields. YET, despite my concern, I made no real effort to prepare my body for what was to come - mostly because...well, I just don't like to run in the heat! HAHA! So I did all my long runs and interval workouts last year in the early morning coolness. I'd have an occasional run off the bike in the heat but prior to this year, the longest I ever ran off the bike in training was 30 minutes so it was never very taxing. Who can't handle the heat for a 30 minute run?
Fast forward to Kona. I obviously survived and lived to tell about it. :) But I KNEW after the race one thing I'd have to work harder on was mentally preparing better for running in an oven. Physically I think my body did just fine. But mentally the heat challenged me and I know I needed to toughen up if I was really going to have a good run at this race in future years.
This is how Operation Heat was born for Kona 2011. :) I'm allowing myself only 1 cool (read early morning) run per week. Otherwise it's mid day and after work running where the Pittsburgh summer is giving me all I can handle. Just this past week I had a 3 hour run in 85 degree temps (with horrid humidity), an easy short run off the bike in 90 degree temps, an interval workout on the track in 80 degree temps (but again with VERY high humidity) and finally a longer run off the bike on Saturday in 87 degree temps with a blazing sun.
I'm not going to say it has been easy. Physically I'm adapting but mentally I have to swallow my pride and understand that I just cannot run as fast as I'd like when it's that hot AND furthermore, it's okay that I don't *feel* as good either.
Today I had another track workout and went at high noon when it was 89 degrees. I was wishing desperately that there were big shady trees lining lane 1!! :) But I feel like I made some progress on the mental side of things, not getting too frustrated that my HR was high and my times were slow. (and it didn't hurt that I felt pretty good too :)
So we'll see how Operation Heat goes! Or perhaps I should have called it Operation Toughen UP! :)