10 Reasons to Love Heat Training

10 Reasons to Love Heat Training
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You don’t normally see heat-training articles pop up in September, but there you have it: while Starbucks is proudly serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the San Francisco Bay Area is a toasty 102 degrees.

A normal person would heed the heat advisory and stay in the air-conditioned comfort of their home, work out in the gym or get in that run, ride or swim before the sun rises in all its Indian Summer glory.

A runner or triathlete, however, would rejoice at the opportunity to get some beneficial heat training. That’s right: I said it’s good for you.

As long as you do it safely – hydrate, hydrate, listen to your body, know the signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, hydrate again! – training in hot weather can not only be fun, it could make you a better athlete in the long run. Here is why:

heat training

1. Heat adaptation improves performance

In some studies, by as much as 4% to 8%. If you’re the competitive type, that might mean the difference between placing in your age group or ending your race a few seconds off the podium.

2. It increases plasma volume

Plasma transports blood cells around your body. More plasma = more oxygen being carried around in your blood cells, to feed your hard-working muscles. Plasma volume decreases during prolonged exercise, so the more of it you have to begin with, the better. (Wow, I am way oversimplifying this… There is quite a bit of medical research on the topic if you prefer the legit explanation.)

3. Running on those cool race mornings will feel effortless

Get used to running in the heat, and those early-morning races will feel like a breeze. And if you end up racing on a hot day, as luck would have it — well, then, you’ll be well prepared for that, right?

4. You get your full of Vitamin D

A widely-cited clinical study published in the March 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that 59% of test subjects — healthy young women living in Southern California, at that! — were vitamin D-deficient. Crazy, right? Vitamin D is essential for bone health; insufficiency is linked to increased body fat and decreased muscle strength. Get your daily dose on a sunny run; just don’t overdo it. Wear sunscreen.

5. You’ll be so ready for long-course triathlon and those mid-day Ragnar legs!

Has the thought of trying an Ironman or 70.3 entered your mind? Or are you more of a Ragnar Relay type of athlete? Nothing like mid-day runs in the heat to get your body ready for race day, when you will likely be starting your run leg smack in the middle of the day.

6. You can run sexy!

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(image source)

OK, we’re entering the not-so-scientific portion of my list now. But how about those short-shorts you can wear without freezing your butt off, or a sexy short skirt?

7. You’ll work on your (sexy) tan

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(image source)
Ever see a pair of legs like those walking down the street? Give their owner a high-five, chances are you both love running or biking in the heat.

8. Other runners will think you’re crazy — and badass

Among those who share your love or running, training in the middle of the day when it’s a gazillion degrees out elicits awe and respect. They probably think you’re crazy, too. But never mind that, they’ll realize how smartly you trained after you show ‘em who’s boss at that next super-hot race.

9. That post-run glass of [water] has never tasted better

Or Nuun. Or beer. Hey, someone has to admit it? Nothing – nothing – tastes better than a chilled glass of the amber brew (your favorite IPA?) after a super-hot, super-hard run or ride in the scorching sun. Don’t judge!

10. You may make like-minded (crazy) friends

Train regularly at the hottest time of day, and you’ll notice one of two things: you’re always the only person out running; or you run into the “regulars,” others who are just as crazy as you are to venture out in the heat. Who knows, maybe you’ll make new running friends that way. Wave hello if you see me!

[tweetthis]Heat wave? Bring it! Check out these 10 reasons why you should love training in the heat.[/tweetthis]
 

Do you ever train in the heat? What are your survival tips?

My First Ultimate Coffee Date: September

My First Ultimate Coffee Date: September
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Ultimate-Coffee-Date-Badge-e1416682466503

It recently came to my attention that on the first Saturday of the month, my fellow bloggers Coco, Deborah and Lynda are hosting monthly “Ultimate Coffee Date” linkups, where everyone gets together virtually to chit-chat about… you know, things we talk about when we meet friends for coffee. Go to any of their sites to see what everyone’s posting, it’s fun!

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that my blood type is Group C for Coffee, wherein about 75% of my blood is caffeine. (The rest is avocado…)

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

Needless to say, I join the Ultimate Coffee Date with the excitement of a kid showing up to elementary school on the first day of 1st grade! (But not this one… awwwwww!)

Let’s see:

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I am so happy to join you! I started blogging in 2012, but balancing family, full-time work, a crazy training schedule and a blog got too much after a couple of years, and the blog got the short end of the stick. Well, I recently made some changes to my work life, which give me more time to get back to blogging about running and triathlon. I am so excited about that!

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that this month, I get to find out if I made it into the Boston Marathon!!! I can’t wait for September 21, when I apply for registration. I hope that my 3:37:24 from the Santa Rosa Marathon is enough to get me in!

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I only have one race left for this year, a sprint-distance triathlon on September 27. This will be my third time doing the See Jane Run Triathlon and I’m really hoping to beat my time from last year. But surprisingly, I am also a little bit burned out on racing. It’s been a busy year and I’m looking forward to taking some time off to recharge before the beginning of another race season in 2016!

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that we are about to head out to a mini-Labor Day weekend vacation at a lake cabin, where I hear there is no internet or cell phone coverage whatsoever. I am a little worried about that!

[tweetthis]Have you ever survived four entire days in a remote location with no internet connection?[/tweetthis]

Happy Labor Day, Happy September, and talk to you soon!

A Blessing in Disguise

A Blessing in Disguise
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“She turned to the sunlight And shook her-2

I was a few years late to Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; not sure how it escaped my attention, but I only read it a few months ago. It is now officially my favorite book about running and I am re-reading it.

It isn’t a page-turner, mind you. Sure, you could go through it in a day or two, but you are much more likely to read a few pages at a time, then close the book and think. (Think about you and your own history as a runner; think about what you think about when you run; just think.)

The quote above was one of the first things that made me think. When I was (much) younger, I was so jealous of people who could eat all of the food, especially junk food, and not gain a single pound. You know those people, right? Well, I’ve never been one of them – thank you, slow metabolism. Every piece of cake goes on the thighs, every chocolate bar sticks right to the butt.

I started running because I realized that it helped keep the pounds away: I could eat my candy and it wouldn’t end up on my six-pack. Then slowly, I began to like running. Then I began to love it. Then I realized, I couldn’t live without it!

Then I wanted to run faster and started thinking more about the kind of food I was eating. Then food became fuel, and calories became nutrition.

Then one day, I measured my resting heart rate, and it was 45. (I had to look up online whether that was OK. Turns out, it is quite normal for athletes. The heart is a muscle and when you use it a lot, it becomes stronger, pumping more blood with each beat.)

Then I realized, I am the healthiest I’ve ever been. Healthier than 18-year-old me; healthier than 25-year-old me. Definitely healthier than people my age who lead sedentary lifestyles — no matter if they are skinny, or not so much.

And I owe it to my slow metabolism!

So if you’re one of those people who feel like they have to work hard to maintain a healthy weight, repeat after me:

[tweetthis]Thank you, slow metabolism, for giving me a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body![/tweetthis]
 
And if you haven’t read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, pick it up. It’s one of those books that make you want to lace up and jump out for a run!