It’s hot out. No surprises really as August is supposed to be hot, right? But man, everytime I start chugging up the local hills…the sun drilling into me, I immediately get pasty-mouth.
You know the feeling when your tongue feels almost thick and your salivary glands just don’t seem to have anything more to offer?
Yes it’s one of the least desirable feelings out there, at least for me. BUT it’s also one of the most preventable feelings, if you play your cards right.
So being August, this week we’re going to discuss a few different ways you can use ice both in training and racing to keep you performing well and you enjoying your time outside!
1. Do You ICE BATH, BRO?
Ever finished a workout, showered, and then continued to sweat in your new/clean clothes? Gross. Not to overshare as that’s been know to happy to me a few times, but aside from a fresh pair of new pit stains in your work wear, your still-elevated body temp and still-inflammed ligaments and tendons won’t help your spring back out of bed the next day for the next workout.
Enter the ice bath! But before you shiver just by thinking about it, here are some great tips to do the ice bath the right way, including gradual immersion with cold tap water, starting in an empty tub, and gradually adding ice in…that is of course IF and WHEN you’re ready.
Want to dig more into ice baths? Check out this great article here.
2. You can’t out run science!
Learn to lower your workout expectations, but not your training standards!
A few August’s back, while in the middle of a big training block, I ended up doing an impromptu training camp…in Alabama. Even at early hours, the level of heat and humidity was something I just wasn’t used to seeing in my cooler coastal California climate.
In short, the few days CRUSHED me. My heart rate was jacked and elevated just while thinking about running. My regular distance runs sapped me more than normal. And my tempo and speed work? Forget about it. It felt like i had a parachute strapped to my back, even tying my shoes.
Simply put, my body was just not adapted to performing at its normal level in the heat. Trying to ignore this very obvious fact was tantamount to shoving the square peg in you know…NOT the square hole. I left feeling a dispirited and disheartened, mistakenly thinking I’d lost fitness and wouldn’t be ready for my upcoming string of races.
I made the mistake of trying to outrun basic science. Akin to training at elevation, my body would adapt, and really all by its magical self…I just had to give myself time for those adaptations to occur. Now that I know a little more, I could have facilitated that process in Alabama by training via heart rate and rate of perceived exertion (RPE), ignoring speed (and my ego), planning to drink more during and after the runs themselves, and my favorite, running with an presoaked ice cold towel on my neck.
Simply put I could continue to keep my high training standards, with smart warmups, attention to breathing and running technique, and focused quality training. By planning and expecting the heat to slow me down, I could turn a frustrating loss into a gratifying training victory.
Read a little more here to dig into these heat training tips and see how your sweat is your body’s natural icing system.
3. Racing? Ice where the sun don’t shine…
For the longest time I was a visor guy while racing. But somewhere along the way I switched to dri-fit hats, and finally to trucker hats. Sure maybe some of it was for fashion reasons, but there was a huge nugget of function in there too. You see, the truckers hat can hold a lot of stuff in it. And during one of the Boston Marathon’s 90+ degree days and mid day starts, I remember us runners looking for any cooling advantage we could find.
So the trucker hat worked perfectly as an ice bucket. I could grab ice chips or a cold sponge and stick them…under my hat. At one station as I did my hat thing, a volunteer yelled at me to stick another sponge and even more ice into my shorts!
This ended up being THE game-saving strategy, but why exactly did it work?
Well it turns out that the body has certain touch points that are most body temp responsive. Icing my crotch was really cooling my femoral arteries which helped my circulating slightly cooler blood to the rest of my body.
Keeping a cool head is not just a phrase. It literally works by buffering the normally strong thermoregulatory response that’s in charge of slowing you down sometimes when you least want to, but for a good cause. It turns out your body doesn’t like big swings (or even minor swings) in body temperature and has some smart systems in place to keep you alive. Your thermoregulatory response being one of them. Go figure.
So while other runners’ engine’s simply overheated in the afternoon sun, I was able to somewhat happily (well it’s STILL a marathon) tick away the miles and hit my target time by more affectively regulating my body temp with my “strategically placed” ice.
So there you go. My tips to train happy, race at your best, and avoid both pit stains and pasty mouth on those hot run days.
Concerned with other areas of your performance and want to learn EVEN MORE about strong, fast, injury free (in all temperatures) running? Best check out the Run Fitness Formula!