I Think I Can, I KNOW I CAN…..

I know you remember from your childhood, or possibly you still use this with your own kids, The Little Engine Who Could. “I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can……..”

Little Engine_I think I can

I know a lot of you are really stressed about the heat.   Running in the heat today, tomorrow, this weekend and basically for the rest of marathon training season summer.  Is it going to be fun?  Probably not.  Is it ideal?  Definitely not.  However, its part of the equation that will deliver you to race day in tip top shape.  The kind of tip top shape that will carry you thru 26.2 miles of whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

think you can

So wrap your head around the fact that it’s gonna be hot and sticky for a long time to come.  Wrap you head around the fact that you are going to run outside and sweat it out.  Wrap you head around the fact that you can NOT cop out and hit the dreadmill.  Running on the dreadmill in your air conditioned basement gym will not help you when its 80+ degrees on race day.  You’ve got to suck it up and run outside now, in the heat. 

Although, I’m sure you’ve scoured every article in the run mags on heat running, here are a few things to consider:

  • DRINK YOUR WATER, every day, all day long, not just while you are running. 
  • ADD SALT TO YOUR DIET.  When you are sweating it out on the trail, you need EXTRA salt in your body so that as you are drowning yourself in water for both internal cooling and hydration purposes you don’t get water poisoning because you have flushed all the salt out of your body and not replaced it.  Some people use salt tabs to help with this while they are running.  I’ve even carried disposable salt packets with me and eaten a salt packet a couple times during the marathon or long training run.
  • SLOW DOWN.  Do not expect your body to perform the way that it does in 50 or 60 degree weather.  It won’t happen.  There’s a lot of science behind that statement but just take my word for it.  Don’t be disappointed, just focus on getting in the miles at whatever pace you can SAFELY manage.
  • FOCUS ON GOAL.   As you are debating weather you should get your ass out of bed hit the trail with your training partners in the heat, or sleep in and hit the dreadmill in the AC later, remember why  you are doing this.  Remember what you need to do on October 7th.  Remember that failing is not an option.  Remember your goal.
  • PLAN AHEAD.  Where are you running?  Where do you need to drop water?  Can you carry water with you?  How will you fuel?  These are not things I can answer for you.  I normally carry water in a hydration belt on me and drop water for refills.  You will go thru way more water than you anticipate because you will probably be using some of it to cool yourself externally.  I dump water on my head or neck to help keep cool.  What is your MO?  Think about it and make a plan.
  • DRESS APPROPRIATELYThis is a good time to look at your wardrobe.  Do  you wear a hat, sunglasses or visor to help shield you from the sun?  Do you have lots of light colored tanks or sleeveless shirts to that wick to help keep you as dry and cool as possible?  Did you buy some shorts/skirts even though you think your legs are ugly?  You need to focus on staying cool and that might mean making a few adjustments to your wardrobe and stepping outside your comfort zone.
  • SAFETY IN NUMBERSIt’s really important to run with a group in this weather.  If you collapse from heat stroke, are vomiting from dehydration or water poisoning, get dizzy from the sun……you will need help.  Carry your phone or make sure that you are running with somebody who has one ON THEIR PERSON, not in their car,  not on the kitchen counter, ON THEIR PERSON

Running in the Heat Cartoon

You can do this.  I think you can.  I know you can!  Now you say it…..”I think I can, I Think I Can, I KNOW I CAN!”  Hit the trail for those group runs and get in your miles.  Just be smart. 

Do you have any hot weather training tips?

Sidenote:  Favorite Training Items Giveaway goes until Tuesday, have you entered to win?

** Happy Training ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

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12 thoughts on “I Think I Can, I KNOW I CAN…..

  1. TTF…good post, but have a different aspect on the subject that should be considered. Running in the hot conditions can be useful to building and enhancing your sweat acclimation response, which translates into the sweat glands getting more efficient and minimizing loss of electrolytes. And at times I have done my runs at 2 and 3 pm in the dead hottest part of the day just to work on that adaptation. But…for the most part, adjusting your runs to early morning is far better approach before it gets ultra hot, and evening can work, but the heat usually lingers on well into the evening, unless you are running late and after dark. Everything else you advise and caution about is great.

    You seem to downgrade the treadmill, but I want to note you can still work-up a lot of sweating running on the dreadmill inside the house. Mine is in the basement and the temp down there is always in low 70′s. But when I run on that mill for extended periods of time (i.e. 45-60 min), I can be sweating a lot. Some of the effect is from higher humidity in the basement and the fact my treadmill has no fan on it (but its got speakers!) so I get no cooling effect from wind and the core temp will increase noticeably despite running in what would initially seem to be comfortable temps.

    Second point to note is though you are correct in that you have to adjust your pace slower when running in the heat (but you burn more calories cause extra energy expended by body in diverting blood flow and sweating response), sometimes doing that doesn’t work well for what the specific goal of a run on your schedule is. So…if the training schedule indicates your goal is to run marathon race pace for 7-miles, then you can’t do that in 90-100 degree heat. But…on the dreadmill in the basement, one can belt out a “pace” run and work up a lot of sweating response, but not compromise safety or health or put extra stress and trauma on muscles and metabolic physiology that would occur if one tried to run goal pace in the heat.

    You have to balance out the goal of your run on the schedule for a particular day. You don’t run every run the same pace and you change it to meet specific goals and objectives to stimulate the body to adapt and become stronger to run your target race at the speed you have set as your goal. There is a time to run in the heat and sweat-it-out, and other times to resort to the treadmill, or just don’t run at all or x-train. And if you are going to run in extreme heat, make sure you have experience doing that and discuss it with your doctor, if there any doubts or concerns about your current condition. Also good to run with a group or partner and carry the cell…just in case. Keep that in mind.

    • Thanks for your input. This was more focused on the long run which can’t be missed and doesn’t necessarily have to be ran at a fast pace. And you are correct, the dreadmill is a sweat fest in any location.

  2. Well said Amanda, the more you train in it the better, your body will get use to it. Same with winter, your body adjusts and gets use to it.

  3. I carry my own water on a hydration belt. It has three bottles, used to be 4 but I keep losing them, so the night before a long hot run, I freeze two bottles to have cooling ice on the bottom of my back and drink them as they defrost. I hydrate really well before leaving the house.

  4. I failed in the PLAN AHEAD department yest, took off for a 5-er (I was hoping for six but really only thinking I would do 3), and man was I parched by mile 4! Planning fail!

  5. Excellent Post! It is and will be hot this summer, just like every summer. Running First thing in the morning helps, too; before the sun but after the cool of the night air!

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