Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Questioning the Hot Race -- Will Cooler Heads Prevail?

The race reports I’ve read from fellow runners in the early part of the 2012 race season show quite a few marathon and half marathon runners battling hot and often humid race conditions. It seems like many of the reports are from the same race and the same runner. Each has worked hard over the past several months preparing for the big event. Each striving for a new PR. Each coming face to face with heat, sun, humidity, and then race strategy changes quickly from PR to survival mode. It’s almost heart-wrenching to read and hear what people go through, because I’ve been there, and I know it just plain sucks. It’s not fun. Distance running in hot weather is anything but fun. When the heat cramps, side stitches, nausea, light-headedness, mega thirst, fatigue, or leg cramps set in on a hot day, there’s little you can do to maintain a “decent pace” much less recover and get back on track. It just doesn’t happen. Splits get slower and slower. You walk more and more. You try to drink as much as you can, but it’s not enough. Salt pills help, maybe, but they’re no antidote.  You’re at the mercy of the elements, and all that’s left is to roll with the punches. Your goal is to not pass out on the road.