Friday, June 27, 2008

Heat Acclimation

One of the worst parts of being a runner in the Northeast is the summer. It gets hot and humid. The heat is one thing, but the humidity is killer. I'm particularly susceptible to heat and humidity. For whatever reason, my body gets warm easily. My sweat rate is off the charts. Staying hydrated is such a challenge that twice I've ended races hospitalized with severe dehydration. But like anything, the heat is manageable. The key is acclimation. My guess is it takes two weeks of tough, pretty unfun runs to get the body used to running in soup. No matter what, you can't run as fast in hot, sticky weather, but it's helps not to feel like death is imminent. Tonight, I felt acclimated. I sweat a lot, which tells me that my body is responding to the need for severe cooling, and I felt find the whole way. The forecast calls for two days with highs of 90 and humidity. Let's see how I feel doing a long run in this stuff.

5.75 miles, 39: 50

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why to Run

When people find out I run a lot, they often ask why. I don't know the answer to give them. One of the big reasons I like it is that it's very divorced from modern life. We don't really need to exert ourselves much anymore. For all our complaints, life is pretty easy. The other week, the New Yorker published a great essay from the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami about his running. He runs every day without fail. The story is an interesting attempt to pinpoint how running is a central part of his quest to simplify his existence. He fell into it, a chance encounter after many years of late nights as a jazz club owner. I think lots of people who run have these chance encounters. I know I did, when for reasons unclear in retrospect, I decided one day to run around a small park in Washington DC in 1998. Haruki says this about it:
If someone has an interest in long-distance running, he'll start running on his own. If he's not interested, no amount of persuasion will make any difference. Marathon running is not a sport for everyone, just as being a novelist isn't a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or suggested that I become a novelist -- in fact, some tried to stop me. I simply had the idea to be one, and that's what I did. Poeple become runners because they're meant to.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Morning Runs

This morning, I got up early (for me) to run five miles. Runners are either early runners or not. Several years ago, when I first started working in New York, I started running in Riverside Park in the morning. My first year was in graduate school, so my schedule was, um, flexible. But with work, I didn't have that flexibility. I went for the pre-work run, because I don't think at the time I knew it was fine to run at night in Riverside. It didn't last long. Running first thing in the morning is hard. My body still wants to be in bed, my muscles are tight, and I'm hungry. I soon switched to night running, though I ran my best marathons very early in the morning. All that said, I admire morning runners. There's something admirable about getting up close to dawn for a workout. The last couple of weeks, mostly because of a hellish work schedule with lots of events in the evenings, I've run mornings. It's cooler then, and I find my diet is better because I'm just eating breakfast afterwards. My goal is to continue this through the summer, though my big test will be traveling to Cannes next week. There will be so many late nights and work to do, I'll be happy if I run three times the entire week. What I wonder is whether someone is a morning runner or not. It might just be that some people are morning people and others aren't. I used to wish there was a marathon that began in the late afternoon or early evening, because I'm big believer that the body is most primed for maximum effort then.

5.2 miles, 35:40

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Running Comrades

In a week, over 11,000 people will line up in Durban, South Africa, at the crack of dawn to do something extraordinary: run 55 miles to Pietermaritzburg. The course wends through the Transvaal, covering the Big Five hills: Cowies, Botha's, Fields, Ichanga and the Polly Shortts. The race is renowned for the spirit of helping each other, sometimes runners literally carrying others to the finish.

Ever since I first heard of Comrades about five years ago, it's become a near obsession. Part of it is because the race is held in Africa. Part of it is the challenge seems almost unreal to me, just as the marathon itself was not something I thought I'd do. Running requires taking the long view, and I've tried to do that with my training. A couple years ago, I ran two 50k races. I found I could go beyond the marathon just so long as I reined myself in a bit. Right now, I'm focused on running a sub 3-hour marathon, but my ultimate running goal is Comrades. I know I'll do it eventually, maybe as soon as next year.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hot Running

There is no beating the heat, particularly when it comes to running. Summers are great for the long days and slower pace, but the high temperatures and humidity make them not so ideal for running. A couple weeks of warm-weather running, though, gets the body acclimated. But acclimation is the hard part.

I have a particular aversion to heat. Twice I've ended up in the hospital with pretty severe dehydration during long runs, including the horrific Delaware experience where I was dragged across the finish line. I really don't deal well with heat.

I ran five miles at about 7:15 pace. Ideally, I'd do a long run this weekend, but it's not important enough to go through that kind of suffering. It wasn't pretty, and I'm still sweating an hour and a half and a shower later. The only way to deal with the heat is adjust the pace, drink tons and eat some salty food to retain water better.

5 miles, 36:13

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Long Runs + Calibration

Friday marked 26 days since the marathon. The rule of thumb is one day of recovery per mile of the race. I've felt fine for some time now, but I'm cautious after races because it's really easy to get hurt. Last week, I ran over 30 miles, and I'll probably do another 35 this week. Today I returned to the long run, albeit at a level that I wouldn't consider long during training: 10 miles.

The interesting thing is I might have figured out the Nike SportBand. After I posted about how disappointed I was with the accuracy of the SportBand, the director of Nike's Run NYC replied to the post. That's awesome. He suggested I need to calibrate it because -- and this is the part I really liked -- I run at a faster pace than it's optimized for. I went for a five-mile run yesterday, including the four-mile Central Park loop for calibration. The SportBand was off .3 mile again, and it was pretty easy to adjust the calibration once I found the option. (It's hidden after you hit a little "i" button in the corner of the uploading window. Today's run came up at 10.33 miles and 1:15 for a 7:15 pace. That's more like what I run. What's great about it, for me, is that Nike reached out to me directly. I'm not sure how Ple1 found my blog, but he seems to have helped solve my problem. Nice job by Nike.