Summertime is often a synonym for vacation, grilling out and fun. It can also be a competitive runner's worse nightmare. When you're trying to keep your mileage up, it's tricky on when to run and when to say no. Dehydration is a sneaky little devil that will come up and bite you when you least expect it. As I found out on my run this past Saturday.
I went out for what was supposedly going to be a relatively easy 15 miler at around 7 minute pace. Enough to get the heart rate up a bit but not kill me. I had intentions of going 18 since my last long run had been 16 a couple of weeks prior, but things don't always turn out as you plan. We started at 6:30 to beat the heat but the heat beat the crap out of me. 11 miles deep I started to get cold chills, then my fingers started to tingle and my body just SHUT DOWN. Stopping at one of Fleet Feet's hydration stations along the Lakefront, my body wouldn't even take in water quietly. It was making me nauseous to try and drink anything.
After not being able to sleep at all Saturday during the day to recover, I went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night and passed out in my bed, only to wake up with every muscle in my body in pain the next morning. My Monday run was an easy 6 but it wasn't pretty. Any more running would've been questionable.
Getting used to the heat is a necessary evil and crucial to conditioning. After all, you may have to race in the heat. However, you dance on a fine line while running in the heat. Getting heat exhausted and having to take several recovery days as a result sets you back more than just adjusting your planned workout to something a bit shorter or with more frequent water breaks. Even the most fit people fall victim to heat.
As Jimmy Brigance (aka "The Legend") used to say: Don't be a hero. Don't use hot weather as a scapegoat for laziness but be cautious. In the meantime I'm going to sit in front of my AC and drink a cold frosty lemonade.