Who Doesn’t Love Running in a Sauna?!

By: Asia Shah

Somehow we have made it all the way to May without more than a handful of truly brain-boiling early morning temps, which has been pretty amazing. It wasn’t until after college that the Austin heat began to wear on me in training, which is mostly due to the fact that I run a bit longer these days since my race distance has quadrupled in length. Either way, it is a tough time of year to train in Austin, yet it also tends to be a good time to experiment with training, races, and those little extras since all that really matters is a consistent diet of  high mileage (for me, anyhow) in preparation for a fall marathon. This year, we have opted to run the Philly Marathon in November, but not before I run the last of the races in the Rogue Trail Series and the SeaWheeze Half Marathon. My coach has decided to throw in a bit of 5k/10k training in the coming weeks as we lay down a base, so that is sure to be fun and interesting. It has been too long since I’ve hit the track consistently and put some raw and hard fought speed in these legs. I am positive that it will help my marathon since, as more of a strength runner (code for “no natural speed”), I am always lacking in the speed department.

One of the most annoying things about summer training in my view is the necessary and involuntary slowing of paces in seemingly every situation; easy runs, long runs, workouts, and races. It is natural, and technically the body is working just as hard, but there is only so much it can do when you throw in 90-100% humidity and constant temps above 70. In my world, heat still trumps cold, which may be due to the lingering PTSD from my Wisconsin childhood. Whatever the origins, I am lucky to be a pretty heat-tolerant runner, even as that tolerance seems to be diminishing. One thing I plan to do this summer to lessen my disdain for the weather and  focus on something in my control is to work on some of the things I have not been doing. Namely, stretching and drills. Specifically, I plan on incorporating more hurdle mobility drills and dynamic stretches into my routine. It helps that my dad’s company happens to manufacture adjustable PVC hurdles, so I have my very own set at home. One would think that this luxury would have allowed me to use them daily up until now, but one would then also be unaware of my lack of motivation in this area of training. And my genetic predisposition towards an unbelievable lack of flexibility has something to do with it.

So, why now? Why is summer a good time to get moving on this stuff? Well, partly because it is easier for my little muscles to stretch and bend in excessive heat (see lack of flexibility above), but also because I view this time as the real beginning of my running year.  The fall marathon is the race that gets the largest uninterrupted chunk of training devoted to it because by the time we are back up and running, Boston is right around the corner. This means that I have a lot of time to work on the ground floor of my building, if my body and running were some sort of building, that is. I would use that whole pyramid/triangle analogy, but that’s so over.  Anyhow, the idea is not only to have strong bricks make up my building, but to have the space between them filled with cement, not play-doh. Get it? Good. Gotta make the parts that connect the parts as strong as possible.

Though we have been lucky ducks these past few weeks, it sounds like the rest of this week is going to be a tad warm come 5:30am.  My hurdles are out, my mind is ready, and now for some speed!


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