Race Sharpness

By: Laura Mitchell

Besides autumn, I love this time of year. Even though the heat and humidity are increasing earlier than last year, we still have seen rain and cloudy mornings. I love cloudy mornings and low 70 temperatures. You don’t have to squint when you step outside or get sun headaches. Maybe some of you prefer the sun and maybe I’m crazy, as I haven’t lived in Portland or England. There it rains all the time, but until I experiment with that, I’m gonna stick with the cool clouds. I grew up in El Paso, Texas where it’s sunny all the time. If you want to do a workout before the hot sun comes out, it’s gotta be at least by 6am!

Now some of you may be thinking this time of year is just the beginning of enduring the hot humid training months, but before you go writing this time off, here are some positive and proactive ideas to keep in mind. It might just make it bearable and perhaps, dare I say, fun!

For one, you can switch the time you run to the early morning or night to beat the heat. Making sure you drink plenty of fluids will definitely allow you to feel more comfortable when running. If it’s a chore for you to drink water, make a game with it and see how many ounces you can intake per day.

You can incorporate running in the pool to stay cool. There are many places in Austin to jump in. Perhaps you run some laps and swim some laps?  Doing a pool workout during the week can also aid in recovery for your muscles.

But back to: Why do I love this part of the year? My training transitions to faster and shorter workouts, plus it’s an Olympic year! Being that I started my running career with track and field, it still remains what I’m most passionate about. I love that feeling of going fast while doing interval training. Sure, there is a lot of preparation for it but that’s all part of the process. The warm up, drills, stretching (yes, after warm up I do need to do a bit of stretching sometimes), strides can be tedious, but it helps you get in the mindset to sprint!  Once that’s all done, you can come close to flying!

Now as April started, to my surprise, this transition period was a bit bizarre. Normally it doesn’t take very long for my body to switch and turn over faster but it is taking me longer to hit faster times; perhaps because I focused on my goal to have a successful and longer 5K season. My body liked to linger around in that pace. Initially this was a bit frustrating. For the first few track sessions, I was chomping at the bit to run fast. When I stepped back, I realized the amount of work I could put in was greater. So, I guess,  “Hooray for strength!”  A few weeks ago, Steve Sisson even told me, “Well, Laura maybe you should think about seeing what you could do in a 5K on the track?”  Haha! Let’s not get too crazy! This girl can’t even think about how many laps that is! All kidding aside, it’s great to see the improvement and the progression of my strength year over year. It’s affirmation to the process that my coach has developed for me.  Racing a 5K on the track isn’t an easy lineman to tackle, but to think that I may be coming around strength wise to do it is intriguing.

But back to the present. I am beginning to come around, and I’ll be doing some track races after Congress Ave mile. I’ll try some 800’s and 1600’s and maybe see if I can better my 3K time from last season. I’d like to see what I can do as I become more race sharp. I love the feeling of that “runner’s high” that I get when I train and race the mid distances. It’s such an amazing feeling and makes me smile. Running should be fun.

So, during these next few hotter months, I encourage everyone to remember the part of running that does that for you. You know, what gets you to “that happy place.” Whether it’s running fast or easy, in the morning or evening, whether it’s with a friend or by yourself and on a track or the getting lost in the trails. Be grateful that you can get up and run. It’s truly a blessing. That will hopefully help you get through the summer in Austin.

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