I have a new theory about how Rudolph got a red nose. He does summer training. We’ve just had a spell of genuinely hot weather here in Wellington, culminating in a Christmas day where the temperature nudged 30 degrees all over the region. I managed a couple of runs during the hot spell and came home glowing like a light bulb dipped in raspberry jam. On days like that I am happy to forgive Wellington for being windy; at least the wind cools you down.
I’m sure it’s not just me lusting for those glorious chilly southerlies ten minutes after setting out on a hot day. Heat is one of the hardest things to deal with as a runner. Vigorous muscle activity produces heat and we warm up, but beyond a certain point we need to shed that heat to maintain a constant body temperature. Hot weather makes it harder to lose that heat. Extra blood flows to the capilliaries in the skin and we cool down, but then there is less oxygen being carried to the muscles. There is nothing for it but to slow down a bit, and find a sustainable balance. I’ve noticed how the regular “round the block” run I do in Johnsonville has taken just that bit longer during the last few weeks, which is sort of demoralising because I was hoping to see my times go down, not up! It makes me wonder how the hell I managed my personal best time for that run. My current average is much slower than my pb. I feel like I must have been on freak juice that day or something. Except of course that pb was set back in July, when overheating was the last thing on my mind. Thankfully I don’t remember last year’s Round the Bays being particularly hot. A lot of the course along Shelly Bay Road was in the shade of the Miramar hills.
Amongst all the advice I came across for summer running (stay well hydrated, run early morning, remember sunscreen, avoid cotton clothing) there was one bit of advice which took me by surprise, which was to avoid excess protein because “protein metabolism produces extra heat”. I think this is because the metabolism has to speed up to digest proteins, which are very large molecules, and is less efficient as well so more heat is produced as a by product. That’s an interesting one. I guess it means lay off the peanut butter and milkshakes in the morning.
So how is the training going so far? In some ways it’s harder than last year because my goals are less concrete. I knew last year I had to be able to run 5km, then 7km, then 10km etc up to being able to do a half marathon. This year it’s just about being a bit faster than my last half marathon in September. My target time for the Round the Bays is 1.40 and I had the chance to test how I was doing on the long run (15km) I did last week on the waterfront. The run starts from Te Papa and follows the Round the Bays course most of the way, out to the first Miramar roundabout and back. I’m aiming to get my 15km time down to 70 minutes to leave a “leisurely” half an hour for the last 6km of the actual race (by “leisurely” I mean “not dying”). The first 10km I knocked off at the pace I wanted, but then I faded and ended up a couple of minutes short of my goal. Two minutes doesn’t sound like much, but I certainly couldn’t muster it last week. So that’s the milestone I’m aiming for at the moment, a negative milestone really: shave two minutes off my 15km time. That’s probably more like 5 minutes after the recent Christmas blowout, but I’m hoping my usual training week of 3-4 runs, the odd home workout and a swim will be enough to get me there. The cool change in the weather we’ve just had will help. As will getting a few good sleeps, if that ever happens.
I’ve noticed that lack of sleep is a trigger for my shin splints to flare up. The two bouts of sore shins I’ve had recently came on when I knew I was tired but stayed up late anyway (getting about 5 hours sleep, given that the first cock-a-doodle-doos in our house for rice crispies and TV come at around 6am). In fact my shins started hurting even before I went running – Just staying up too late made them hurt! It’s as if they’re stressed and ready to self-destruct at any moment. All I have to do is provide the excuse! I thought I’d save a more in depth post about shin splints and sleep for another time, but in my case I was fine again after a few days rest. Running isn’t painful at the moment and for that I am pleased!
I’d like to report on my Parkrun activity but Saturday mornings have all been spent at work lately, pushing buttons and turning knobs and all that important worky stuff. You can read about their special Christmas day Parkrun here though – It sounds like it was a fabulous morning with a great turnout and lovely weather. Coming up this Saturday (29th) is their “bring a plate” picnic day. I will yet again be at work but I recommend everyone go along and join in. I’m sure it’ll be cracking.
Stay cool and enjoy your training. Merry seasons greetings to all. Here’s to a nimble new year!