The common thread is patience and tolerance.
Be patient during these “transition” weeks. Yes, whether experienced marathoners or first-time endurance runners--we’re excited about starting our training. And the adrenaline with a group in training is similar to the excitement on race day, as we stand in our starting corrals waiting with anticipation for the gun to go off.
In both these situations, patience is the key. Do not start your training or your race too fast. Remember to be patient.
Be kind to yourself in these early stages of training; and be tolerant of weather conditions.
Heat and Humidity –
The transition from winter to spring to summer brings with it unpredictable weather changes. We have a few days of nice cool spring days followed by days filled with humidity, rain and heat—especially in places like Chicago where we can often shift from cold, rainy days to a steam bath overnight.
Our bodies are amazing machines, with built in thermostats. Our bodies work to keep us warm when we run in cold weather, and cool when we run in warm weather. Sweating is the very efficient way our bodies have of cooling us off and allowing us to exercise safely in warm weather.
However, on hot and/or humid days our bodies do not cool us as efficiently—causing us to overheat. When we overheat, our core body temperature rises, and our cardio-vascular system must work extra hard to cool ourselves off. Our bodies do adjust to the warmer temperatures, but this takes time. Usually, 2 -3 weeks of time is needed for our bodies to gradually and fully adjust to increased temperatures and humid conditions.
During this phase, we need to slow the pace of our runs and monitor for signs of heat-related illness. From sunburn to heat exhaustion or worse, our bodies warn us of dangerous levels during training. Listen to your body. When feeling fatigued or light-headed, slow the pace of your run. Shorten your run if need be. Getting-in an extra few miles is not worth the trade-off in becoming ill due to heat and humidity. If a light-headed feeling persists for more than a few minutes, stop running and seek a cool, shaded area.
Increase fluid intake - we lose more water and minerals (electrolytes) through sweating while adjusting to the heat and humidity of summer. Replenish electrolytes through sports drinks and remember that the most efficient source of hydration is plain water. Continue eating a balanced diet to maintain energy and electrolyte balance throughout training and in the days leading up to a long run.
Remember to apply sunscreen, but not too much. Too much sunscreen can act as a deterrent to the evaporation process. Apply sunscreen and reapply periodically as necessary.
And be patient. Our bodies will adjust provided we help the process.
Transitioning to Outdoor Running from Treadmill Running
I heard a number of comments recently from runners who have performed most of their training runs on a treadmill. Mostly, the comments questioned why running outdoors seemed so much more difficult and slower than treadmill running.
Some questioned the heat and humidity; others questioned their own physical conditioning.
While heat and humidity play a role in transitioning to the outdoors from the treadmill, there is a more fundamental difference between the two. Running on a treadmill takes less effort for the athlete. The belt moves at the pace set by the runner and the runner lifts his/her legs. In contrast, when running outdoors, there is friction between the runner’s feet and the ground; the runner propels her/his body forward against the forces of gravity; and there are the natural elements of heat, humidity, wind and related features of nature.
Measuring one’s level of exertion--on average, a runner will be 15 – 30 seconds per mile slower outdoors compared to running on a treadmill, while running at the same effort level - takes practice. Like transitioning from cool weather to hot and humid weather, the transition from treadmill running to outdoor running requires patience and tolerance. In time the transition will occur, and that improvement will be noticeable.
“Good form will carry you through”®