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The Weekly Mile: Week 5 (How Heat and Hormones Can Hinder a Half)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I now know how the 2007 Chicago Marathoners felt after a month of training in 45 degree weather when on the first weekend of October it suddenly ascended to a hot and humid 86 degrees. We go through months of putting our bodies through every kind of imaginable torture leading up to the big day, but the pain and suffering of training can only feel like a walk on the beach when compared to Mother Nature throwing a weather curve ball on race day.

This weekend was my first attempt at running 13.1 miles. I was pumped to meet my goal. It was a beautiful day and I was looking forward to spending 2.5 hours out in the sunshine seeing all the parts of my city at their finest on foot. I had my route mapped out, my podcasts picked. I was geared up for success.

Well...I got about 6.2 miles from home - and totally tanked. I panicked. I had no idea what was wrong, but I just knew that my legs didn't want to work and my brain was even worse. The defeatist self-talk came on hard and fast and soon it was drowning out my Radiolab podcast, telling me that there was no way I was going to make it today. I kept trying to push further, but the harder I pushed, the harder my body resisted. I finally made a deal with myself to slow down and walk a half mile to see how I felt. My mouth was so dry I could hardly breathe. Every time I would stop at a light, I was fighting dizzy spells. I deaked into a Starbucks bathroom and stuck my head under the tap, drinking up the cold water. I felt good enough to try running again, so I headed back out. Only made it another half mile before having to stop again. I was still 6 miles from home.

After a stop in a park for some more water, I walked another mile, then ran/walked two. By the time I reached 3 miles from home, I collapsed on a bench and decided to wait for the bus. I was done. Once aboard the bus, whether it was the crowd or the sway or the lack of a seat, I don't know. But what I did know from having experienced it enough times, was that if I didn't get low to the ground with my head between my knees, my body was going to do it for me, so I sat down on the floor of the bus while everyone just stared at me and let the cold sweats pass over me. I finally got up and got off at my stop, thankful to be back home.

The moral of the story is this: Just because I didn't complete the distance I set out to do, doesn't mean I didn't train just as hard. There are lessons to be gleaned from every experience on the road, and the following is a list of things that I learned about long distance running this weekend.

#1 - Springtime running is hard. Fall running will be just as hard. Clothing choices are very important during these switch seasons, but when you're already wearing shorts and a tank, there isn't much more you can take off when the temperature goes from 65-78 degrees during the course of one run. Slow down, take your time.

#2 - The weather that will sock you fastest on a run is warm & windy. It will dry you out like the Sahara Desert. So know where your sources of water are even if you don't think you're going to need them. And it's probably important to start taking water along on long runs. Just sayin - figure out how to carry it.

#3 - Probably also important to start looking at fueling mid-run. I thought I could make it to the Half distance before having to worry about fueling, but despite a PBJ before my run, I just felt like I had no gas left in the tank. I'm going to have to start dealing with it at some point, may as well gel up.

#4 - I am a runner. I am also a woman. And as female runners, sometimes our biological schedules can either help or seriously hinder a long run. I switched pills a month ago and all of a sudden I'm having fainting spells again the week before my period. My doctor knows about them. It's nothing serious - just hormonal - but I haven't had them in a long time and apparently I need to start worrying about them again. My doctor also told me to cut back on the long runs in the week before my cycle. I didn't listen and I paid for it. Such being the case, I may have to do some creative scheduling or doubling up on pill packs to make sure that I'm at my optimal menstrual timing for race day. I can't risk dizzy spells running 26.2 miles.

#5 - I lost 4 pounds this week. Which is awesome. So I seem to have found that magic number for losing weight again. But that may not be the optimal number for training. I'm disappointed that I can't seem to have both right now. It seems to be that either I lose weight, or I fuel enough to train hard. I fought hunger pangs a lot this week because I have been eating so much lately, I knew it was going to take some time to shrink my stomach a little bit again. So I've been through the hard part, but now the question is whether or not I'm really getting enough to accomplish my marathon goals.

#6 - I ran 21 miles this week. That's a lot. So perhaps running another 13 so soon after that was not the best plan. Even though my weeks "end" on Saturday and "begin" on Sunday, my body only knows the number of recovery hours in between runs. So running an 8-5-8 with a mile swim in the middle is a lot of hard work for only a day and a half of recovery before attempting a Half Marathon. I took Friday off completely, but on Saturday I walked two miles because I thought it was gentle cross training. I won't say that it's the 2 mile walk that broke me, but more rest in my case has proven to be better over time. I need a solid taper to run long distances and clearly this week I did not have enough time to recover.

#7 - If at first you don't 14 miles next weekend! And I will!

Week 5 Schedule (Completed):

Mon - 8 miles
Tue - 5 miles
Wed - Swim
Thu - 8 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Walk
Sun - 10 miles (aimed for 13, completed 10 run/walk)

Total Weekly Miles: 21 (23 with walking)
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 3770
Weekly Weigh-In: 182.8 (BOOM! A 4 pound weight loss - finally!)

Week 6 Schedule:

Mon - Rest (work event)
Tue - 3 miles
Wed - Rest (work event)
Thu - 7 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Rest
Sun - 14 miles (or 9 miles - I haven't decided on my week 7 schedule yet - might be a low week)

*P.S. I had this blog entirely written earlier in the day and it was erased. I liked my earlier blog better, but if I remember stuff from it that didn't make it in this one, I'll come back to update. Doh.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think you're doing pretty amazing. I know you'll be great when race time arrives. BTW - I know where your 4 pounds went.
    2470 days ago
  • JEREMY723
    I started running in mid-November and then was hurt and not running all of March. Now I'm running again and missed the hot warmup. I'm doing my first half on Sunday as scheduled back in January and it's 7am which is good as they're saying 80 degrees! Thankfully there's water every two miles. I've tried GU gel and I think it's helping on longer runs but I can't get my mileage up enough to be sure at 10-15% increase per week.

    I hope that you're feeling better soon and hopefully with some changes won't repeat in the future
    2471 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    ooo scary xx
    2471 days ago
  • JTAYLOR2011
    A basic hydration rule that I've adopted is any run over an hour water comes along for the ride. I bought a HUGE CamelBak once my runs started getting longer during the build up to my Half (see link below). I then went to the local bike/triathlete store where a formally ranked triathlete gave me the low down on sports nutrition during endurance training and events. Learned about electrolyte replacement, gels, post workout nutrition and more. It's been really helpful and has drastically changed the quality of athletic life while running and afterwards.

    2471 days ago
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