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Adapting To Temperatures…


April 2012

Holy cats!  200 posts!  Sweet.

My friends have developed a hypothesis over the years of running in a wide range of temperatures.  Living in southeastern Michigan, we get it all – 90’s in the summer and 00’s in the winter.  Most of us only run outdoors and adapting to a swing of 90 degrees is not always easy – my first run at 75 degrees was tough, no matter how much I enjoyed finally being able to run in shorts and a t-shirt.  Even more difficult is adjusting from warm summer running to the cold of winter, usually some time in the middle of November.

The importance of hydration is number one in adjusting from cold to warm for me.  I can run anything up to a half marathon without so much as a swig of water in the late fall through early spring, but as soon as the temperature rises above 75, I’m carrying the H2O with me.  I can’t make it (comfortably) more than five or six miles without at least a bottle of water.  I used to horse through it, but find myself infinitely happier and faster if I carry some water with me.  Now I choose not to wear a hydration belt – I have a Nathan water bottle with a strap that I use.  It’s a pain to carry, but I’m a lot happier with it.  Either way, I always drop out on my first “hot” run of the year.  I accept it for what it is, by the second run I’m fine.

Adjusting from warm to cold sucks for me.  Going from t-shirt (or no shirt) and shorts to tights or track suits, jackets, gloves, hat and fleece – and that never-ending bite of the cold is never any fun.  I’ve written many times about my new cycling jacket being my favorite piece of winter running apparel (Specialized Element Jacket), this has been the first winter in the last ten that I was actually fairly “comfortable” through the winter – in fact, in the previous couple of years I ended up taking weeks off at a time.

Getting to our hypothesis though, there is a definite correlation to the rapidity with which we adjust and frequency in getting out.  In other words, the more we prolong the inevitable by skipping runs or full weeks, the longer it takes for us fully adjust to the seasons.  This is especially true for me when looking at the shift from summer and fall running to winter.  The more I run in the cold, the less the cold bothers me in day to day life.

Cycling seems to be a little different, though this is my first cycle through the seasons.  First of all, I’ve only ridden outside a couple of times when the temp dropped into the thirties – in fact, it was quite odd that I chose to ride yesterday.  I’m a 40 degrees and above cyclist, mainly because 36 is cold when you’re standing still – it’s brutal at 20 mph with no shelter (hats off to those who ride down into the teens).  I hate that my leg muscles feel so tight and won’t loosen up.  Also, I require a lot more water when riding in the colder temperatures.  I don’t really know why, it just is what it is and I don’t anticipate trying to figure out why.  The transition to warmer weather, in contrast, is a lot easier.  I’m sure this is due to the constant breeze created simply by riding.  In fact, I truly love riding when the temperatures top 90 degrees.  I have no problem heading out in the hottest part of the day for a nice long ride.  This year, with my body fat, BMI and weight down considerably year over year, will be even more enjoyable.  The love of the heat has been a longstanding oddity with me – nothing made me happier than taking a golf trip down to Florida to visit my dad in July and hitting the links at high noon (start after the morning rain and finish before the afternoon downpour).

In any event, today will be my busiest Sunday in quite a while.  I’ve got grass to cut, a back yard to clean up (we’ve got a 50′ maple in the back that sheds dead branches about the yard all winter long), a mid day 18 mile ride to attend to followed by the Sunday bowling league.  No rest for the wicked today.

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