What Not to Do

Today’s training plan called for speed work.  I had plans to get out before the sun came up, but weather and staying up too late contributed to that not happening.  I headed out around 10:00 AM to do my prescribed miles – 1 mile warm up, 2 x 2 miles at HMP (half marathon pace), 1 mile cool down.  I knew it would be warm and humid, but I didn’t think it would be like running on the surface of the sun. 


Not only was it hot and humid, but the sun was out (a rarity these days), wind was in my face and I was heading up a long, gradual hill.  My half marathon pace is 8:21 and I ran that first mile of the speed work at 8:18.  I had to wait for the traffic light, thank God, so I took the time to drink some Gatorade and let my HR (heart rate) come back down into zone 2.  When it was taking longer than normal, it was time to change the plan for the run.  I decided to run mile 3 slower and then possibly try for another HMP mile once my HR came down a little.  Since I was running through some small, rolling hills, it was hard to get my HR down.  It probably didn’t help that there was virtually no shade on my run. 

I turned around at 3 miles, paused my Garmin and took some more Gatorade.  What happened to the wind that was in my face on the way up that hill?  I don’t recall feeling this miserable on a run since the last time I attempted speed work on a hot and humid day last summer.  All thoughts of running another half marathon pace mile were gone.  New goal:  Make it back safely. 

As I was running back, many thoughts crept into my mind…

  • What is wrong with me?
  • Why can’t I run at a faster pace?
  • Have I really lost that much fitness from not doing speed work since early April?

Those thoughts were from the part of my brain that tends to get me in trouble.  The part that pushes beyond where it should push.  The part that doesn’t get invited to the party very often.  Then the logical part of my brain spoke up…

  • Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to a client or MIT participant.  What would you advise them to do?  Slow down, ease up, of course.
  • Your heart rate doesn’t lie…it’s hot and humid and it needs you to back off.  Do it!
  • Be content with where you are and appreciate what your body can do today

I hit 5 miles and was feeling a little better, but realized I needed to get home quickly, as I had to go to the bathroom.  There was no place to stop, my only option was to cut my run short by omitting the final half mile, which was fine by me at this point.  Only then I wasn’t sure I was going to make it even if I did cut my run short!  I picked up the pace, not really wanting to, but I didn’t really want to poop my pants either.  Thankfully I made it, but it took a while for my heart rate to come down into zone 1.  It hovered right at 129-132 (top of zone 1, bottom of zone 2) for several minutes. 

As I look back at my run and the data from my Garmin, there were many things wrong…

  • 81 degrees with 80% humidity
  • No shade
  • 10 mph head winds
  • First 2 miles were up hill, third small rolling hills

I decided to write this post to help show others that sometimes it’s necessary to make a judgment call.  I was been hell bent on running speed work because it had been so long since I had done it.  I began to fear that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to perform as well as I hope to in my fall races.  I know better, but that didn’t stop me.  Fortunately I eased up when I did, though I should have known better.  I should have hopped on the treadmill inside or skipped the higher intensity on a day like today. 


Honor your body.  Listen when it tries to tell you something.

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