Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beating the Heat, and ITB Stuff

As spring (what spring?!) drew to a close, I found myself asking fellow runners the same question over and over. How do you beat the heat? And let's be real for a minute here. In Florida, the reprieve from heat is pretty minimal; but there is a difference between the heat and humidity of June, July, August, and September and the rest of the year. Not wanting to admit defeat for four months, I sought answers.

While some answers came in almost technical form regarding water-replenishing-rates (see here), other answers I received were to run earlier, decrease my pace, bring water with me, run shorter distances...basically, take these four months as a chance to decrease my training. (I've tried to get up early to run about half a dozen times now, and failed to get out of bed each time!) The good news is that nearly everyone agrees that in the fall, when temperatures dip, running in the heat pays off. Suddenly you're a super speedster, breaking PRs all over the place.

Or something like that.

Anyway, like most runners, the thought of taking walking breaks (even if they're for water) sounds like cheating. When I first began running, I couldn't complete a quarter mile without walking. Being able to build mileage without a walking break is a huge accomplishment for me, and I absolutely hate having to walk. But, as I discovered a couple years ago when training for the half, planned walking breaks don't feel like cheating. Intervals, in other words, are a saving grace.

I've had to grapple with myself over this, because coming to the decisions to 1) ease up on my pace, and 2) keep my distances at a comfortable level has been hard. But in the end, I decided that it's more important to stay consistent (meaning running weekly) than to push myself to a level of discomfort. This also means taking water breaks. Tonight, I took a break after the first mile to have some water. I kept my pace comfortable, and although I've been doing two-milers for what feels like forever, I didn't give myself any grief over not increasing my distance tonight. The humidity just makes my legs too heavy.

I'm not really happy about this, but there's something freeing in running just to run again, not for a specific goal or race or reason. Just to run.

On top of this, I think I've mastered my IT band pain! I'm wearing something much like this or this. My strap is Velcro and has a little rubber bar on the underside. It's meant to be worn under the knee to support the patella, but I've been wearing it about 3 inches above my knee, pulling it nice and tight, with the rubber bar directly on the IT band, and voila! No pain! I've had three runs free of pain now, after two years of consistently painful knees.

This is seriously a lifesaver. I can go running without fear that halfway through I'll be in debilitating pain. I haven't tried for a longer run than two miles yet, so we'll see how this works for 5ks and the like.

There is a 5k June 2, right before I leave for my trip, that I may attempt. But I'm not really feeling an urge to go.

I leave for Israel June 3 so I won't be running or posting until the end of the June. I'm super excited, and the girls I'm going with are runners as well, so we may get a few runs in while there. But I won't have internet and, frankly, won't want to spend my time posting when I'm experiencing the trip of a lifetime!

So until then I leave you with these words: "Run often, and run long, but never outrun your joy of running." - Julie Isphording


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