I think fall has finally started in the Lowcountry. There is no spectacular change in leaf color that heralds the changing of the season like in the Northeastern US but we are getting cooler weather (70s to low 80s at the hottest), less humidity, and shorter days. Oh and one more tiny little thing…running is becoming easier!!! It no longer feels like you are trying to breathe thru a wet towel every time you step out the door. For me that is the telltale sign that we are out of summer and moving toward winter and RACE SEASON!
This is the first week in months that I can remember feeling good during all my workouts while consistently running between a 6:00-6:35 pace. Granted most of the workouts I did were short with the longest at 9 miles, but there is no way I would have been able to do this even 3 weeks ago. This marked decrease in pace in cooler temps is one of the major benefits to training in hot humid weather all summer.
Running in hot weather has been compared to altitude training in terms of physiological benefits. In our case as your body gets excessively hot blood circulates closer to the skin to help dissipate heat rather than bringing oxygen to muscles. This puts your muscles into an oxygen poor environment that makes exercising more difficult. Difficult in the short term that is: what you are really doing is training your body to work more efficiently. When these muscles are introduced to an oxygen rich environment they thrive and are able to out compete muscle that has not undergone this deprivation training. Humidity also comes into play: as humidity increase the amount of evaporative cooling (sweat evaporation) your body experiences decreases…keeping you even hotter. Combine high heat and humidity and you are in conditions that produce a very stressful exercise environment.
However if that stress is carefully used (and you don’t overdo it) it can produce some amazing results. Those results are exactly what I experienced this week in our more temperate weather…faster pace, less fatigue, easier runs, and an overall more comfortable and stronger feeling during runs.
So now that running is easier what am I going to do? Start running faster. I have already rebuilt most of the endurance and stamina base I lost after my hip flexor/abductor injury and now it’s time to get my race times down. Over the next couple weeks I’ll be targeting progressively faster paces in training runs with HARD workouts at sub-6 minute, Fast workouts at 6:00-6:20, Moderate workouts at 6:20-6:40, and Easy workouts at 6:40-7:00. This will be the first time I have ever trained using pretty strict time parameters and an actual training schedule so I am excited to see what it produces.
If everything goes well in the early part of this race season I hope to run a mid 2:30s marathon sometime in early 2016. Regardless of what times I run I am looking forward to a very busy and fun race season!