You Can’t Beat the Heat

What’s a runner to do when the high is 100+, the low is 80+, it’s been this way for weeks, and there’s no end in sight?!?

Leading up to this Summer, I had a sure-fire, easy-to-follow plan to beat the heat at its own game: Rest.  Take it easy, allow my body to recover, revel in the nothingness, and come back rejuvenated and ready for more.

My conviction dates back to the Summer of 2009 when I trained for my first marathon.  As much as I loved the training experience and, especially, crossing the finish line in Chicago, I concluded that training through the Texas heat was completely insane.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2010, and I found myself right back in the heart of marathon training again.  It’s a sickness, I tell you! The problem is that most of the great marathons that are easy to get excited about running – Chicago, New York, Marine Corps, Nike Women, St. George, Wineglass, just to name a few – are in the Fall, which means you have to start training in June.  So, there I was running 50+ miles every week in the scorching Texas heat.  This time, I had my eye on a big prize: Qualifying for the Boston Marathon in the St. George Marathon in October.  I vowed that if I succeeded and ran Boston the following April, I would take at least one full season off.

Along came the Summer of 2011 and after running the Boston Marathon, running the Big Sur Marathon, getting our house ready to sell, moving into a new house, and throwing a housewarming party less 40 days later, I concluded that my plan of rest was perfectly timed.  As much as it pained me, I declined an offer to coach again with Run On; I left my training buddies behind to achieve new PRs without me (and I do expect PRs out of all of you!); and I attempted to rest.

The operative words here are “had a sure-fire plan to beat the heat” and “attempted to rest.”  Now that the craziness of the move is (mostly) behind me, I am struck with the reality that I simply am not meant to be a sedentary person.  I like feeling spent at the end of a good workout.  I like the way my legs feel after a hard ride or a long tempo run.  I like having a little sense of freedom in my food choices.  And I strongly dislike seeing the scale creep up past my comfort zone number.  (No, I’m not telling.)

So, I did what any good athlete would do: Joined the dark side and set a goal.  The plan? Ride Hotter ‘n Hell 100 on the tandem at the end of August.  Lofty? Perhaps.  But my anti-exercise funk called for an extreme intervention.  Besides, when have Brad or I done anything half-assed?

Unfortunately, on the fitness front, a lot has changed in the two months that I’ve been focused on everything but training … My legs are heavy.  My cardio system is acting like it forgot how to work hard.  My inner voice of competitiveness has morphed into an inner voice of perpetual sleepiness.  Pretty much anything sounds more appealing than frying like an egg on the pavement.  And, truth be told, it’s not nearly as much fun to run or ride when you aren’t as good at it as you know you should be.  So, now I’m faced with a whole host of motivation issues!

Little by little, I am getting back into the swing of things.  I rode a total of 85 miles combined this past weekend — 60 on the tandem and 25 solo on hills.  I am making time for hot yoga.  I still haven’t managed to peel myself out of bed in the morning for a run before work, but there’s hope.

Why am I sharing this lapse in fitness? To prove that I am human, for one. 🙂  And, more importantly, to save you from making the same mistake!

Lessons Learned :: You can’t beat the heat; you have to find a way to embrace it.  Know that if you can keep training through this scorching Summer, you can conquer any Fall goal you’ve set for yourself.  And, whether you have a goal or not, just don’t stop moving — it makes it that much harder to start up again!

“Success does not come to the most righteous and rigorously disciplined but to those who continue running.” ~Amby Burfoot


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