Saturday, January 12, 2013

Turning up the heat

The other day I read something that made me laugh out loud.
It was this sentence: "Roberts is the medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon who published a report in 2010 that recommended a Do Not Start temperature of 68 degrees [20 degrees C] for races held in northern latitudes." - from this Runner's World story.

I mean, yes, I fully understand that it's all relative. That if it snows in Chicago, municipal authorities are completely prepared, but dust Texas lightly with snowflakes and all traffic comes to a halt. If it snowed here race directors would call the race off and the entire country would shut down. (Unless climate change goes really nutso and we have a new ice age somewhere, it's HIGHLY unlikely to snow here.)

That made me laugh, because seriously, 20 degrees C is just about the COLDEST it ever gets here.

The other day I did 5x800 repeats at 4:09-4:22 - the temperature was about 26C (79F) and humid, and the day was heating up.
But a year ago, while visiting Japan, I did 6 x1km repeats at 4:30-4:57 apiece.  It was February, and the temperature was probably about 6 deg C (42F). Sure, I was chilly for a bit, but that's what a warm-up is actually for. BLISS. 


Here is a story - the very first marathon I did took me just over six hours. I sweat a lot when I run, and I lose a lot of salt when I sweat. I am a puddle. My eyes sting. I cramp. I run hot - I've been on winter hikes, in New Hampshire, where after half an hour I am down to a t-shirt. A worrisomely damp t-shirt.

This marathon started at 5am, and it was mayyybe 24C/ 75F. In December. (The temperature doesn't really vary much year-round.)

 As the day wore on, it got hotter. I lost more salt. I cramped up. It got even hotter - like 29C/ the shade. In the direct sun it was easily 31, 32C - 88 or 90F. I was carrying a single bottle as always, which then caused my wrist to cramp. (I didn't even know my wrists could cramp.) I hadn't yet figured out how to swallow a gel. The salt capsules I'd carefully prepared were a mushy mess in their little ziploc in my pocket,  from the heat and humidity. I cramped. I was miserable. I got sunburnt and ended up with a hot pink nose to match my hot pink shirt. I walked. A lot. (This is the story of my life.)

This, ladies and gentlemen, has been my motivation to train for every marathon since then: want to get out of the sun? Run faster! 

Of course I've also cramped on both marathons since then. There is an electrolyte/ hydration sweet spot that I haven't found yet...

Sometimes, I wonder what I could do if the weather was cooler. Me and Singapore weather, we're a bit of a mismatch. Just be warned - now you know what to expect if you attempt a marathon in Singapore!

But Singapore is a nation of runners. So how do we survive running in the heat?
Hydrate a bit more.
Start early. Or run late.
Wear a visor, not a cap (that just traps too much heat).
Tote something cold. I like to freeze my water bottles the night before.
Wicking clothing is nearly useless - at track workouts, my friends have had to wring out their shirts. (We're all disgusting, it's cool.)
And if you run on shaded trails, you can run at pretty much any time of day, because it will feel the same no matter what.
I have been seriously hungry all week. Five meals a day hungry. Starting to wonder if I have an actual tapeworm.

Thursday hills x 8
Saturday morning easy long(ish) run: 5km on roads, then 11km on trails with my friend Adrienne -at conversational pace, we had a good catch-up because I haven't seen her in person in months! - strides at the end.

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