Quite often, these words are usually spoken (in public, at least) with the utmost distaste. For a lot of people, the best solution is to simply avoid them. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
...but what about that comfort zone?
Anyways, here are some 4-letter words that a lot of runners avoid, but shouldn't:
First off, heat. We're in the dead of summer, after all, and the temps are warm. In a lot of places, the air is humid. Some of us sweat just walking down the stairway. Running in the heat can be frustrating because the increased temps make it difficult to give our best performance. Our bodies also need to work harder to cool us (via perspiration). That said, running in the heat can be your trump card come race day. You may not spank a new PR, but if you've trained (with precaution) in the heat, your body and mind will know how to deal with those conditions should the mercury be high on race day.
Ahhh, the dreaded hill workouts. Hills are hard. Again, it's easier to avoid that which doesn't feel easy. Hills require the runner to not only fight gravity, but also to alter their stride in doing so. Depending on the grade of the hill, one needs to step "higher" than what feels natural, which will utilize some muscles (glutes, hamstrings and calves) in a different way. Also, descending those hills will demand a lot of work from your quads, and you may need to shorten your stride to avoid going too fast. Sure, you can walk the hills (which isn't a bad strategy), but if you do a little routine hill training, your body (and your mind) will be better prepared to face any hill (or several) on race day.
The wind can be a tough dragon to slay. Although we've all probably enjoyed a delightful tailwind, most of us know what it feels like to fight a nasty headwind. Often times, it can feel like you're running in place, not gaining any distance, if the wind is really strong. The wind can make a hot day more bearable, and it can make a cold morning feel painful. Granted, in the winter (in the Midwest, at least) the windchill can get dangerously low, so it may best to stay inside and avoid it. Otherwise, though, it can give you valuable training in grit and perseverance.
No doubt, rain can be a real buzzkill for runners, especially on race day. Myself, I don't especially like getting wet... blisters are almost a guarantee on my toes, my clothing sticks to my body, and the streets can become slippery. Yuck. If it's a cold morning (like in the spring or late fall), the rain will feel even colder. If it's a hot and humid summer day, though, the rain can actually feel quite refreshing. Now, I'm not one to head outside in the midst of a royal downpour. If I'm already outside, though, and rain should suddenly appear, I don't mind it (much). By being caught in the rain, I have learned that I will not melt in it. While not ideal, it is possible to still run in it. Should rain be in the forecast for race day, I know I can handle it.
It took me awhile to master the ability to talk and run at the same time. When I was a new runner, it was difficult just learning how to breathe while in motion, say nothing about trying to talk as well. When I started running with my friend, Barb, though, the talking kind of happened on its own. Over time, her and I have learned to run a decent pace and keep a good conversation going without getting out of breath. By talking while running, my body has learned how to control my breathing, which has proven to be a valuable tool while racing.
Yes, I will give a shout-out running in the cold weather. It's a given I much prefer the hot temps of summer over the frigid chill of winter, but I still get outside as much as possible year-round. The cold air is pretty invigorating (once you've warmed up). You do need to use caution if the ground is slippery (with ice or snow), and be mindful of the windchill, which could affect your safety. That said, avoiding the cold will hinder you're ability to run in it, should you be served unexpectedly cool temps on race morning. Everyone has a different comfort level in terms of layering, so running in the cold, even periodically, will give you a chance to figure out what works for you. Also, just as your body needs to acclimate to warm temps, the same is true when the seasons turn cold.
I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey for the Friday with Fairytales and Fitness link-up.
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