With the Boston Marathon now 15 weeks from today I wanted to write a little bit about our training plan, recap the week that was and talk about winter training. Last week was a relatively slow return to training coming off of my lower leg injury as there are many tales of woe from runners returning too soon from shin splint issues. Given the fact that Boston looms on April 19th, another set-back was not anything that I have time for right now. Runs of 3 miles, 5 miles, 3 miles and 8 miles were logged on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday last week with bike rides of 12 miles, 12 miles and 16 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Mixed in were three strength training sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – giving us 10 workouts in 7 days. 40 miles total on the bike, 19 on the running trails.
Yesterday’s 8-miler felt very good throughout and without checking on my individual mile splits during the run I was able to finish only :11 off of my target pace of 7:30 second miles. Hoping for a 1 hour flat time over a hilly course, I was able to cover the 8-mile route in 1:00:11.
This week started with a 3-mile run this morning with virtually an identical schedule ahead, the lone exception will be this Sunday’s run that will be stretched to 9-miles. It will be important to gradually build mileage while making sure not to overstress the recovering muscles and tendons around my right tibia. Feeling good is a blessing – but one that I need to be careful not to take advantage of and try to do too much too soon. We still have plenty of time to be ready for Boston and then ultimately Pittsburgh 13 days later. 408 running miles remain as of this morning as well as 586 miles on the bike, I’m confident that we’ll be ready come April 19th.
One thing that I was surprised about yesterday is how comfortable the run was with the weather outside in Austin at 38 degrees. Typically I leave the house for winter training runs before sunrise and allow my internal temperature and the rising sun to warm me throughout the run. In the past I have felt that 45 degrees was my optimum training temperature as I can be comfortable in shorts and a long-sleeve technical shirt a skull-cap and light gloves. Anything below 45 degrees and I need to add full tights, a heavier shirt, a thicker hat and heavier gloves.
Like anything related to distance running, practice makes perfect. It only takes a run or two with too much clothing (or too little) and you vow to never make that mistake again. For some newer runners getting the clothing “right” for winter runs is challenging. Not only do you need to predict how much the external temperature may change during the course of your run, but also remember that your internal temperature will be increasing as well.
Over the course of an 8-mile run I typically will be outside in the elements for about an hour. With the sun rising around mile 3 or 4 I may return from my run with the temperature 2 degrees warmer than when I left. What is important to remember is that not only will the external temperature change during that time period but so will your internal temperature. Typically during an hour of running my internal temperature will increase from 98.2 degrees (my temperature is typically a bit lower than “normal”) to 100.2 degrees. This occurs due to the fact that more than 70 percent of the energy that powers your muscles is lost as heat, causing your body temperature to rise during exercise. To keep your body temperature from rising too high, your heart pumps the heat in your blood from your muscles to your skin, you sweat and it evaporates to cool your body.
Sweating is controlled by the temperature of the blood flowing to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. When your temperature rises, you sweat more. During exercise, your heart beats very rapidly to pump blood to bring oxygen to your muscles and hot blood from the muscles to the skin where the heat can be dissipated. When you stop exercising, your heart immediately slows down, decreasing the amount of blood pumped to your skin, so your temperature rises higher and you sweat more. This is why for a short period of time when I return from a run I am actually sweating more than during my run.
The key to dressing properly for any temperature is to consider these variables and make sure that you start your training run feeling just a bit chilly – so that after your first or second mile when internal and external temperature changes have increased the way you “feel” 4-5 degrees, you are now dressed for this adjusted or “actual” temperature. For me, if my ears and fingers are happy – my body is happy.
One of my prized winter running possessions is my Under Armour Arctic Beanie – for anything below 40 degrees – this is a quality, quality piece of running gear. It is lightweight, comfortable, will absorb sweat before it runs down into your eyes, but also large enough to cover your ears. Under Armour clothing is not cheap by any means, I think this beanie goes for around $22.00, but their stuff is definitely quality and has lasted well over three winters now with little sign of wear.
So don’t use the lower temperatures out there as an excuse to put off your fitness runs, walks or bike rides. Just gear up and enjoy being able to be out there doing what you love to do.
For me this weekend it was celebrating 38 degrees as my newest friend – perhaps we’ll meet again in Boston.