Heat, Humidity, Trails, and…Pleasant Weather?

Summers in southern Indiana can be insanely hot and humid. Training in this kind of weather is challenging, but is good for the body nonetheless. I knew coming into it this year that much of my training would be through the dog days of summer, which translates to sweat poured profusely over miles of road and trail. While it can be dangerous if ill-prepared or naïve, I know that running in these conditions can help me be a stronger runner.

A post from one of my favorite running websites has this to say about the benefits of running in the heat:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
  • Your body gets better at sending blood from your core to your skin, helping to dissipate heat
  • With all that blood rushing to your skin, your muscles now get less oxygenated blood. So to compensate, your body produces more [oxygen] (who needs blood doping?!)
  • The body learns to control its core temperature and it won’t increase as much after you’ve acclimatized
  • You start sweating sooner at a lower body temperature to improve the cooling process
    Sweat contains less salt so you maintain the right electrolyte balance

(strengthrunning.com)

There are other things to consider (being properly hydrated on the outset of any run is perhaps chief among them), but I will try to not balk at the heat this summer.

Week 4 of 24:
Miles: 20.93
Average Pace: 10.5 min/mi
(I’ll admit I was surprised at this low average pace for the week. I was even trying to figure out a way to fudge the numbers so it looked like I ran faster, but I settled on just being honest – with myself, and with anyone reading this. I ran my runs, and that’s that!)
Calories: 2,966

Monday (Click to see more info!)
Monday was an easy 5k from home, my go-to course. This is one of the first times I’ve been able to run the whole 5k without having to walk since beginning my training. Call it heat, call it getting back into the groove, but I’ve had a few tough runs leading up to this one!

Tuesday
The heat wouldn’t keep me away tonight either. I ran intervals, and even threw in a couple extra intervals at the end, since I still needed to complete the course and I was feeling really good. The skies turned black just as I finished, and we spent the rest of the night inside while I’m pretty certain I saw a bunch of animals float by in an ark.

Wednesday
Another 5k today, but this one on the trails of Audubon State Park in Henderson. This trail is intense and surprising for this area. It has plenty of challenging hills throughout the course, keeping my average pace down. This trail is going to help me train hard for the Rugged Red Trail Half Marathon in September, which could be the death of me. This is why I’m attempting to do plenty of training runs on trails. There’s nothing like it!

Thursday
Tempo run today. The challenge with a tempo run is maintaining a consistent pace for the whole run. It’s a great practice, and always feels good at the end unless I set my pace too aggressively at the beginning. If I do that, then I have to listen to my watch beeping at me to “Speed up!” Today, my watch was telling me to “Slow down!” which I prefer.

Friday
My long run this week was eight-mile trail run in Harmonie State Park outside of town. HSP has long been one of my favorite places to go on day trips. They have a nice, moderate trail system for hiking, several miles of great mountain biking trails, and a beautiful picnic area right on the Wabash River. My route took me onto both mountain bike trails, and I completed it in just over an hour and a half, which is what I was aiming for.

Turtle!
I found this fellow on the trail. I only picked him up to move him off the trail because there were mountain bikers around.

It dawned on my while I was running through the woods that a portion of what I was running today was the same course I ran for my first 5k in 2012: Harmageddon. It was very hot that day, deep into the 90s when we started running at 9:00 a.m. I’ve run countless 5ks since that day, and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

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