A few years ago an old runner I know told me that training in the heat and humidity of the Northeastern United States was just as difficult as altitude training.
I don’t know about that. I understand the point he was trying to make, but it seemed to me that there is a little more involved, like, for instance, breathing. Trying to do speed workouts at 8,500-feet for a flatlander like myself is a lot like trying to teach a dog the multiplication tables… or maybe simply teaching them to a public school kid ensnared in the inanity of The No Child Left Behind Act.
But that’s a different argument.
Anyway, during my forays to higher altitude to run my biggest challenge (aside from breathing and making it up those “hills” with some type of movement that could be categorized as running) was getting out and back before the temperatures soared to 80 or 85 degrees. Humidity was never a problem because it rarely topped 30 percent, which made for pleasant summer days.
You see, at altitude a runner can crank out the miles like crazy – they will just be much slower than normal. However, after a week of running up high the first run at sea level makes me feel like I’m one giant lung. The feeling doesn’t last long, but it is fun for a day or two.
That is if the summer heat and humidity doesn’t take you out.
And that’s the trouble. Some summer days here in the east make it difficult to leave the air conditioning, let alone go out to run. Last summer I thought about those differences between Colorado and Pennsylvania after returning home to a heat/humidity wave. One my first day back at sea level after putting in 85 miles at 8,500 to 9,000 feet, it was so forebodingly hot and humid that I was only able to eke out 8 miles. As the week continued and the heat and humidity became more oppressive, I waited until 7 p.m. to start my runs, which was OK for a little while, but it definitely threw me off my schedule.
Anyway, as the summer season officially kicks off this week and the humidity begins to creep in for the next few weeks here in the east, I’ll be thinking about Colorado and those lucky folks running around up in the clouds…
I’ll trade humidity for altitude any day of the week.
Monday – 15 miles in 1:39:43
I want to go for at least two hours or 20 miles, but I was delayed because I was reading about The Sopranos on the Internet. I’m such a dumbass. Nonetheless, it would have been a good day to crank out some miles because I felt steady and strong the entire run. Hopefully I feel just as good tomorrow when I try to make up for not running long today.
Tuesday – 15 miles in 1:39:49
Felt tight (but not tired) at the start and it seemed like I was going kind of slow, but I was locked into a pretty solid pace and was able to keep it there until the last 3 miles or so. That’s when I dipped to 6:45 pace and started to feel tired. Regardless, the run was pretty solid and I had enough left at the end for another five miles at the same pace.
Wednesday – 18 miles in 2:01:14
Went for ART in the morning and then went out and had my ass kicked. Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. I ran steady 6:30ish pace for the first hour or so and then the heat, sun and lack of water took me out. After 14 miles or so it was a bit of a struggle, but I kept at it and focused on my form and elemental running. When I got home I was dehydrated and whipped, so I scarfed down two Clif Bars, lots of water and a big glass of Gatorade. That seemed to do the trick.
Thursday – 13 miles in 1:26:19
After five or six miles I felt great. My splits went 33:34 for the first five miles followed by 32:32 for the second five miles. Not only did I feel strong, but also my stride was good and my feet felt very comfortable hitting the ground. At one point I thought about taking it down to 6-minute pace, but figured I had to save a little for this weekend. But as I always say, “What the hell am I saving this for?”
Friday – 9 miles in 62:25
Ran with the stroller for the first time. It wasn’t easy, nor ideal, but I suppose it’s something I’ll have to get used for certain occasions in the future. Nevertheless, pushing the stroller with a 35-pound, three-year old in the seat wasn’t the hardest part — dealing with the heat and humidity was. Fortunately, today was a scheduled “easy” day so I felt no need to push the pace or mileage.
Either way, the boy seemed to enjoy his nine-mile ride around the neighborhood. Maybe sometime in the future he and I can trade places?
Saturday – 13 miles in 1:26:30
If it hadn’t been for the breeze and the hazy cloud cover, I definitely would have melted to nothing but a pile of salt today. The heat index was near 90 degrees and the humidity didn’t do anyone any favors either. Nevertheless, I ran fairly solid by going through the first five miles in 33:11 and the second five in 33:10. My last mile home was pretty decent, too.
On another note, the Vermont City Marathon was one year ago today. That one was hot, too, and definitely not as fun as today’s outing.
Sunday – 6 miles in 38:24
Ran easy and steady though I did the last two miles at 5:40 pace. That felt really controlled and strong without exerting much effort. Still, I definitely need to do more speed, that’s for sure.
I wore my Nike Air Mariahs today. There was also a pretty intense hail storm in the evening. I’ve only seen anything like that in Colorado.
That’s 89 miles for the week… maybe I should run around the block for an extra miles to give me 90?