Double The Heat

Not many runners, at least in northern climes, enjoy the heat.

Once the thermometer rises above 65 degrees, a daily workout can feel icky. Even worse, racing any distance longer than a 5K might seem like pure torture.

But how many runners do you know who love believe they run better in a fall race?

Certainly, consistent training is a lot easier when you’re not fighting layers of clothes and the tricky, often brutal, conditions of winter and early spring in the Upper Midwest. But there’s also science behind it:

Researchers have been looking at the effects of heat on athletic performance for decades, and their results have been consistently surprising. Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

In fact, heat acclimation may actually be more beneficial than altitude training in eliciting positive physiological adaptations, says Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon.

The above passage, outlined in OutsideOnline, reinforced something that seemed apparent in my training for fall marathons each of the past few summers. Now I’m a big believer as those training blocks the past 2 summers — when I logged most of my miles after work — helped me nail a marathon PR and a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Race times showed that most of my best or fastest races come in the fall. When I stumbled across the above article, it made sense to me.

An early morning run can be exhilarating and energizing, but I’m still going to find some time this summer to log some of my runs in late afternoon and evening.

Since I’m a big fan of performing a weekly double (running twice in one day), it should help log a good time this fall since it pulling it off requires running at least one workout in the heat. And by sleeping in once or twice a week would also mean running after work, that would yield 2 or 3 evening runs each week — an easy way to get the extra training benefit of running in the heat and acclimate just in case race morning proves to be warm.

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