If you interact with me in the real world, or haven’t yet hidden me on Facebook/Twitter, you probably already know how much I DETEST humidity. It’s so awful. SO AWFUL. In summers past, I have struggled with this terrible phenomenon. Trying to go about my running schedule, dripping with sweat and feeling the awful tingly, goose-pimpled feeling of dehydration as I try to complete a trifling 10km run at a pace barely beyond a walk. But usually, I am just running because I like to run. Or maybe I have a race waaaaay down the line in October, when I know it’ll be much cooler. So missing a run here and there, or cutting one short, or stumbling around at a pace well below my normal level is kind of fine. A mild irritation, but no big deal. But with marathon training??? Well, that’s another story.
The marathon is coming up fast. And I am now routinely running farther than I have ever run before on an almost weekly basis. I used to get excited when my Garmin informed me I’d set a new record. Now I just roll my eyes and shuffle home to a cold shower and a nap as fast as my weary legs will allow me. Adding 3-5km to my previous longest ever run every other week is hard enough. Factor in Heidelberg’s apparent obsession with an ever rising humidity this summer, and it’s just down right impossible. When I headed out for a 29km run two Sundays ago, it was 93% humidity and 21C when I left the house at 9am. It was 80% humidity and 24C when I threw in the towel, a broken, exhausted shell of a woman 23.7km later. I was so destroyed, I had to catch a tram back to my house rather than run-walk or even walk the last 5km. And logically, I know it’s the heat and humidity that is the cause of this melt down. I’d run 26km the week before. It’s not like I can’t run long distances. And sure, my pace is currently about 20 seconds/km below what I have planned for race day, but that’s to be expected in these conditions. Right?
WRONG! Well, wrong according to irrational, illogical Michelle, who is terrified that this is a sign that she can’t run a marathon. She is convinced that, because July and August (so far) has demonstrated a weekly increase in temperature and humidity that nicely matches my weekly increase in mileage, that this is something that will continue up until September. When I’ll have to run 42.2 km in 44C and 190% humidity. Which is clearly nonsense (I checked: Cologne’s record high in September is only 31.7C, so not 44C).
But, the fact remains that this constant heat and humidity is leaving me somewhat uncertain about exactly what I’ll be able to achieve on race day. My longest pre-race run is at the end of August, so it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the temperatures will still be high and the humidity will still be sucking the life force out of me with every step I take. So, how do I deal with that?
Several ways. Firstly, I complain on Facebook and RunKeeper, and my excellent support crew (including, but not limited to Anne, Sarah, Melissa, Jayne, Amy, Charly and Casey Deen, with Casey G chiming in on G-chat) quickly reassure me that I’m on track and doing well. Further to that, they offer up helpful articles that give you ways to train for marathons that don’t focus on the killer long run, thus alleviating some of the humidity pressure (thanks Charly!). Secondly, I do some googling to learn the facts about how humidity affects you so I know that SCIENCE backs up my feeling of terrible exhaustion and inadequacy, and I’m not just being a weeny. This little breakdown of the five ways humidity affects you as a runner was super enlightening to me. And the 7 ways of dealing with it (sent by Amy) was also a reassuring read.
So, I guess that is where I’m at. Still uncertain about how I’ll do on the day, still hating humidity, but trying not to freak out about it. Because my team and science are behind me. So really, what’s the worst that could happen?*
*the first person to mention hyponatremia gets a slap ;)