Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer is finally here (it would seem)

I was just thinking the other day about how I have improved in running over the last couple of years - not so much in terms of times (which have indeed improved) but more in terms of adaptations my body has made.

- The maximum heart rate I reach in the final straight of a competition - be it 5K, 10K or a Marathon  - is significantly lower than it used to be. Only 4 to 5 years ago I would regularly see numbers in the range of 189-192 bpm on my heart rate monitor. Now I finish a 5K race (which is supposedly the most intense) at a maximum of around 182 bpm. I expect that this also has something to do with the relatively cool temperatures I have been competing in lately.

- My feet and legs feel much more rigid and "springy" and I feel like I bounce much more with every stride, especially when I am running at speeds which I consider to be fast.

- My weight seems to be hovering around 80-85 kilos for the most part, rather than the 85-90 kilos I was seeing even when I was training hard for the Ironman.

- I think my posture is much better and my core muscles much stronger even though I don't train them specifically and I certainly don't have a visible six pack.

- I need to drink far less water than I used to both in training and in competition. I think that the need to drink is somewhat psychological and so that when you are starting to suffer you think that a glass of water will solve all your problems. Now I tend to think that I'd rather not have that extra weight sloshing round in my stomach, unless it is really necessary.

It's quite ironic, then, that today should be the first time that I really needed a drink (of water) while I was running since last August. I went for a run around a nature reserve near my work that has a perimeter of about 3.6 kilometers and started to sweat profusely under the relentless 30 degree sun. At one point I asked a gardener to spray me with his hose - which he was initially reluctant to do, saying that the water was dirty, but I didn't care. Then I ran without a t-shirt for a bit before finally succumbing and ducking into a smal cabin where there was the holy grail of a water cooler with ice cold water. I drank a couple of cups and poured a third over my head. Considering that only yesterday I had done a demanding but very acheivable set of 15 minutes at 15 kph, 15 minutes at 16 kph and 10 minutes at 16.5 kph - all on my fan-cooled treadmill - it was quite a comedown.

As our summer holidays are going to be in Morocco in August, I'd better start getting used to the heat again...

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