So it’s June in Columbia, which basically means it sucks for running. Our amazing spring weather gives way to a daily ration of soul-crushing, surface-of-the-sun heat followed by a good chance of monsoon like thunderstorms with death lightning basically every day. Road races kind of disappear, and I’m left with either training in this misery, or (GASP) hitting the treadmill. Shudder to think.
This year I was going to do summer right. In the past I just got lazy and slower, but I’m still chasing my dream of the sub 40 10k, so I really want to be in good shape for the fall. I already did my yearly revisit of the treadmill, which of course reinforced my belief that I’d rather repeatedly bang my head against the wall for 45 minutes than ever do that again. Jeezus. How people (cough) Tyler McGaha (cough) do a majority of their running on the dreadmill defies explanation to me. I saw them all spring at MUV fitness, churning out miles in front of a TV while a sunny 65 degree day sat there outside. Boggles the mind. So it’s outside or nothing for me.
This summer, I’ve developed three workouts guaranteed to improve summer training for the large and pigmentally challenged.
- Albino Sasquatch tanning sessions. I’m a large Irish guy, which basically means my tanning ability runs from the dark beige to maybe a light khaki. My genetics would have me drinking ale by the overcast North Sea, not slogging out miles in the South Carolina heat. But I have young kids, which means I have to make at least weekly pool appearances. And I don’t want to be “that dad” with the shirt on in the pool. I may have lost all coolness points my now, but somehow I don’t want to be the shame of the suburban aging guys at the Woodlands pool. Total middle school, I know. I go from alabaster to beet red in about an hour, so if I can get enough 30-45 minute sessions of sun, I can actually, vaguely, tan. So why not incorporate this into a run and kill two birds with one stone? I park at MUV fitness, run 1 mile into Sandhills across the street and then let the paleness fly out in the relative seclusion of the park. Four miles in the blazing sun in the open field, then shirt back on for the run back to MUV. I don’t want to scare women and children. To date, this workout has produced decent results, at least with heat acclimation. Unfortunately, I did one of these on a Tuesday, which just happens to coincide with the weekly Northeast Farmers market. I’m in the middle of my mile loop, pushing the pace, when all of a sudden I make a turn and I’m putting on a pasty, sweaty show for about 50 people. My deepest apologies. At least the portapotty for the market stays there all summer, providing a safety net for code browns, albeit at 120 nose destroying degrees. Bikram pooping is a thing, apparently.
2. Sesqui hill training – They say hills are speedwork in disguise, so I figure hitting the double combo of Mt Sesqui (the entrance road) and Sand HELL (Brandenburg’s torture trail paralleling Mt Sesqui) are a good way to get some quality runs in without overheating too much. I generally take these pretty easy, and they make good scouting runs for the annual CRC sufferfest route. I’ve done this combo a number of times, so last week I was feeling pretty cocky and went back to do Sand HELL one more time after leaving Brandenburg a sand note at his gate. I’m cruising along when I suddenly realize it’s after 6 pm and I was going to meet my college roommate/drinking buddy Ryan at 6:30 to go to Twisted Spur. All of a sudden I go from a 10 min pace slog to a 7 minute pace tempo. The internal radiator starts smoking almost immediately. Shirt comes off, as does my spibelt since it was bouncing with the speed downhill. It’s getting late, so I crank it up to 5k pace as I cross Polo Road, absolutely dying. I’m thinking I’m OK until Ryan texts me he’s early. I get the text just as I come flying around the corner, pure sweaty albino, sucking wind like there’s no tomorrow, double fisting a soaked shirt and an iphone. I get a WTF? look from the car, do a speed shower and rehydrate at the brewery. Let’s just say it was a good thing it was his turn to drive.
3) The Track, or whatever – Nothing sucks worse than speedwork in the heat, but Justin Bishop likes to beat his minions into submission when June rolls around. Going to Team Utopia practice is rough, but at least there’s company to your misery at Owens field. Unfortunately my little minions all have swim meets on Mondays, so this puts a wrench in my TUS attendance. For the non-suburban parent, swim meets are 3 hours plus of roasting in the sun while they have like 60 races. They are just a notch above other kids birthday parties and Monkey Joe’s on the parental pain scale. So, I’m often left to fend for myself with the 800 meter repeats in June. Last week: 8 x 800 in the rain, by myself, up and down the hills of Wildewood. This was after swim meet got rained out last second, 2 coronas down and an 8 pm guilt trip. I thought this had to be piece de resistance of summer training torture, though I was able to finish. But no, today had to trump that. Meadowlake track near my work, 5.5 x 800 at 6 min pace in 95 degree heat dodging walkers and kids. I was supposed to do nine. Halfway through the sixth I was feeling kind of passy outty so I figured it would not be cool to be carted off on an ambulance. Especially in front of the psychiatric hospital where i work. I’m supposed to be the sane one.
Which goes to reinforce the number one rule of summer training: just don’t die. To that end, never do the 1 x 20 feet at 9.8 m/sec/sec in Hawaii. I can’t recommend it. Stay safe out there…