Summer in Tucson: What to do to get in shape

It’s about 5,000 degrees outside in the Old Pueblo, with eggs frying on the sidewalk and eyelids sticking to eyeballs – not a great time to be a distance runner.  The heat in Tucson will make it hard to run a lot – your average pace will be as much as 10% slower than when running in moderate temperatures, your lactate levels will increase, your core temperature will be hotter, and your heart rate will increase so that an easy run feels like a tempo workout.  So if you’re going to go slower and fee bad, what do you do?

Well, the first thing is to not worry about performance: give yourself the freedom to feel crummy and to run slower.  It’s amazing how freeing it is to let go and not stress about any given run.  

The second thing is to change your plans: instead of worrying about training for a given race, give yourself the chance to build your base.  Run as many easy miles as you can – go as slow as you need, but get in the weekly volume of easy, conversational pace runs.  

The third thing?  Add cross training – do an exercise that makes you breath hard for up to 60 minutes and improve your running form by doing any combination of bike riding, swimming, or running in the pool. (Clearly, we don’t swim the way we run, but you can breath hard and enjoy the same sort of meditative effect when swimming.)  If you can get to a gym and do the elliptical or similar machine, try to spend 20-45 minutes a day moving and getting your heart rate up.  

Fourth, in Tucson enjoy the many structured activities: do the Monday Night Aquathlons or the Tuesday Night All-Comer Track Meets

Fifth, when all all else fails: wake up early and get the run in before the sun sticks its head out . ..

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