Want to get better at running? Here’s 5 essential items that every runner needs, recommended by a 3-time marathon runner. Melissa Rorech, Reviewed.com
The heat and humidity took its time arriving this summer. The majority of the spring and even early summer featured wet and cooler-than-normal temperatures. The month of June, in particular, seemed like an endless wave of desultory, dreary and damp weather.
But during the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend, traditional summer weather kicked in with a vengeance: Hot and humid days, with threatening thunderstorms, finally combined to sure make it feel like summer around here.
In terms of extreme weather conditions for runners, the combination of heat and humidity by far is more dangerous than anything else. Bottom line: Heat can kill a runner. Extreme cold rarely has such deleterious effects.
Dick Vincent of Palenville is a living legend in our sport. Vincent is best known as the founder and director of the notorious Escarpment Trail Run, which is coming up later this month in the Catskills. For several decades, Vincent was a high-level long-distance runner, notching incredible performances — especially at ultra distances. Vincent was also a well-known streak runner, with a daily running streak that reached nearly 35 years (to be exact, 12,581 days or 34.44 years … incredible!).
The wear and tear has taken its toll. Injuries and surgeries have curtailed Vincent’s competitive running days, but he is now a well-established and well-respected coach with the Albany Running Exchange and with numerous regional runners in the Capital District, Catskills and mid-Hudson Valley. Recently on Facebook, he posted an excellent set of tips and guidelines for training and racing in the heat, and he has given me permission to share some of his thoughts in this space.
Here’s how he started the post: “With the heat and humidity upon us, we are all waging the battle against the elements. Running in this weather is a war you will not win; rather, it is a treaty you must negotiate. Regardless what some distance runners will tell you, no long-distance runner performs to their potential in extreme conditions. By understanding what is happening to your body, you will better know how to approach your hot runs and how to adjust your expectations.”
Vincent stresses that it is imperative to minimize overheating on the run. Like a car, once a body starts to overheat, the “chain of failure” begins. Deterioration happens rapidly and the situation can become dire — even deadly — very quickly.
Here are a few tips from Vincent on how to manage the heat:
Slow down! Vincent cited several pacing tables and formulas. They vary greatly based on fitness level, body weight, running economy, distance/pace being run or raced and acclimation to hot and humid conditions based on myriad other factors. “When the temperature rises over 60 degrees, one formula predicts it will affect your pace 2-3%,’’ Vincent said. “An 8-minute pace slows to 8:10-8:15. By the time the mercury hits 80 degrees, that same effort will slow to well over 9-minute miles.’’
Use “real feel” temperatures as a guide. “Real feel” is the combination of air temperature and dew point that calculates what it actually “feels” like; most smartphone weather apps will readily supply this number. When the humidity level increases, he said, the evaporation rate on your skin slows down. “This is why you are drenched in sweat,’’ he said.
Consider where you run. Vincent noted that if you are running in the sun as opposed to the shade, that, too, will cause you to produce more heat. In addition, the temperature on the road or track might be well into the triple digits, so even if the air temperature is 80, the temperature 3 feet off the ground is what you are dealing with.
Consider how far you run. As noted earlier, the pace adjustment guides are based on distance and intensity. It’s different if you are running a marathon versus running a shorter race; at the shorter, more intense distances, the effort will be greater and more heat will be produced.
Consider when you run. It’s advisable to run early in the morning, typically before 9 a.m., or later in the evening, typically after 7 p.m., to avoid the most intense sunlight and heat. But remember that even during heat waves, the dew point can climb to unsafe levels at all hours of the day. Plan accordingly.
Vincent concludes: “It doesn’t matter if you are running a race or a speed workout, you must take into consideration the heat/humidity and adjust your pace. Not doing so is a path to failure. If you are going to maintain or build fitness for the fall racing season, you will have to train in the summer. Be sure to drink fluids and maintain your electrolytes. Start conservatively; better to be overly cautious than overly zealous. It is what you do in the second half of your run that will determine success.’’
The Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club’s Summer Twilight Track Series started off with a bang at a new location July 5. For the first time, the meet was held at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Hyde Park. Despite the new location and the holiday weekend date, the first week of the four-week series drew a near record number of participants — 97 runners signed up.
“It is impressive in the sense that so many attended on an extended (holiday) weekend,’’ meet director Pat DeHaven said.
DeHaven also noted that 22 of the registrants were from the impressive group of athletes and coaches from the Poughkeepsie Striders. “They have become an integral part of the Twilight Track Series over the past few years,’’ he said.
Notable performances were recorded in the 1,600-meter run: Recent FDR graduate Paul Sandford ran 4:26 and 11-year-old Samantha Guckian, paced by her mother Melissa Guckian, notched an impressive 6:32.
The series continues for the next three Fridays. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and events start at 6:15. See www.mhrrc.org for details.
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club member Pete Colaizzo, the track coach at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, writes on running every week in Players. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more club information, go to www.mhrrc.org