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The Downside of a Cool Spring

April 28, 2012

I felt it today, for the first time this year–that 90% humidity that knocks you backwards when you step out the door. This is unusual for us. As I think I’ve shared before, we usually start feeling the heat and humidity in early March. This year, though, we’ve had unusually cool weather in the spring, and I ran this week–yes, in late April–in my long Pearl Izumi sleeves and a tank top, because when I set out of the house at 4:30 it was in the low-50s and very, very crisp to this southern, weak-blooded Florida runner.

And then, overnight yesterday, a thunderstorm blew through, leaving behind the muggy, sodden air we’re more used to when the calendar reads April. When I set out, it was already 75 degrees, with 83% humidity. Here’s the thing: usually, by this time of the year, I’ve been running in these conditions for about eight weeks, and I’m completely acclimated. But today, it was my first day running in it, and I felt completely demoralized and undone by the heat and soggy, unbreathable air. I know I’ll get my legs back, but it’s going to be a slow couple of weeks.

In related news, I had definitely slowed down even before the heat hit. I said I would slow down immediately after the events at Gasparilla in early March, but if you look at my logs at RunningAhead, the reality is that I didn’t–at least not by very much. I ran two 30-mile weeks two weeks after the Challenge, for no real good reason at all. They did result in a near-PR at the Rooney’s 5k, so I’m not complaining, but they represented a huge gap in what my lips and mind were saying (“I’m not in training, so I’m going to take a huge cutback in volume”) and what my legs were doing (no change at all).

As you can guess, after the 5k I did feel some effects. My knee has started to bother me more than it has in a while, as have my shins. As I do about once every year, I’ve also started to feel more blah in general about my running. Don’t get me wrong–I still love the sport, but I’m not absolutely starving to get out and run mile intervals once a week. As a result, my legs have finally caught up with my philosophical desire to cut back my training. The week after the 5k, I only ran 12 miles, and this week I barely made it to 18, with my long run stretching to a whopping six. Incredibly, I’m actually losing weight, because it turns out when you’re not running 30+ miles a week, you’re just not that hungry. I’m running very little, resting my knee, and I feel good. Though I’d initially said I’d start building my mileage back up in May, I’m not gunning to start my 30-mile weeks any time soon, and am looking at staying under 20 for another couple of weeks. Since Little G and I are considering running a marathon in the spring, not the fall, this gives me more time to build up my base before marathon training. This suits me just fine for now, as the Boss and I are doing some little projects around the house, and I’ve added some ministry responsibilities that mean I’d be getting much less sleep if I was still trying to get in 8-mile runs on a regular basis.

Oh, I also ran naked for the first time today. Get your minds out of the gutter; I mean that I purposely set out running without my Garmin GPS. Though I love my Forerunner, all this week it’s felt huge and clunky and incredibly intrusive sitting on my wrist, and in fact, most of this week I chose to wear it, not on my wrist, where it’s felt like a big-screen TV staring at me, but looped around the SpiBelt where I carry my phone. Each time, I decided to wear it because I’m a data hound and I like to keep track of my pace for each mile, knowing whether I’m running faster or slower as the miles tick off. Today, though, even the data wasn’t worth the aggravation, and I very purposefully left my sweet Garmie at home when I set out. I was running a route I know very well, and speed wasn’t an issue–I knew that six miles would take about an hour to cover, and I desperately wanted freedom from numbers, from data, from performance.

I’m thinking May will be about heat acclimatization and shorter, more relaxed runs . . . which suits me just fine. And I think I’m going to be running naked a lot more.

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