I Am That Girl Now

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Runners, I need help

Besides the mental help which we all know I need, this time I mean I need advice.

This heat is killing me. I can't function. We only have air conditioning in one room of the apartment (well, two, counting the bedroom, but due to shitty wiring at our shithole building we can't have them both on at once), and suffice it to say that it's not the sunporch which houses the treadmill. It's already 85 degrees in there when I get up in the morning, and there's no breeze because-- very special!-- 90% of our windows are so old and busted that they can't be opened. I have a fan, so there's that, at least.

Thing is, I feel like I just can't run worth a damn in this heat. I've been pushing through it for weeks now and Sunday seems to have been some kind of breaking point for me. I went in there this morning and my iPod wouldn't work (apparently the charger hadn't been connected right; it's fine now), and I was starving, and I stood on the treadmill with my temporarily-dead iPod in my hand and burst into tears. I just couldn't face it.

I don't know anything about running, see. I don't know if the heat actually makes me work harder, so I should be running slower, or if the heat is just making me into a whiney little wuss. I can't tell! All I know is that I'm having horrible run after horrible run and it's making it so that I dread my cardio mornings. I can't manage to do HIIT anymore because I end up having to stop and lean over gulping for air. I feel like I've completely lost my game and it's scaring me to death.

What do I do? I want to get a heart rate monitor, because I'm hoping that it'll prove that I'm working harder than I think I am, but what if I'm wrong? What if I'm just being lazy and it proves that I need to work harder, even in this nasty heat? What the hell do I do?

I think right now I need to put my head down and have a good cry, is what I need. I feel trapped and scared. I have this horrible fear, that crops up at times like this, that I was fooling myself all along, that I can't hack it, that something's going to go wrong and I'm going to backslide helplessly into a zero-fitness place again, lose all my muscle, lose my flexibility, lose my speed-- and of course end up fat again. Having the running go all hinky on me is triggering that fear in a huge way and I feel like I'm losing my mind.

So scared, guys. So freakin' scared.


  • I always find comfort in books when I'm confused or frustrated..

    In this case, I recommend 'The Beginning Runner's Handbook' by Doug Clement. It covers everything you need to know about running and then gives you three running programs (walk to run, maintenance, run longer/faster).

    It's help me understand running better and even helped my performance.

    By Blogger Katy, at 9:08 AM  

  • Ok, first off, breathe. Now...

    It's just damn hot woman. HOT. Maybe bringing the intensity down a notch is what you need to consider. And our bodies are remarkably resilient and have great memories. Easing up isn't going to make you backslide...it's going to preserve you so that you don't get frustrated and quit completely.

    But you know this.

    You've just been going at this for awhile now and you are emotionally fried at the moment. And that's OK. You're allowed to be.

    You're fantastic.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:14 AM  

  • This has nothing to do with running advice, but you might want to check local laws on landlord responsibility. In most states, it is illegal to have non-working windows for fire safety purposes. Your building could be legally obligated to fix them for you if you rent. (You rent, right?)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:43 AM  

  • Don't worry, you're not alone and what you're feeling is perfectly normal! You're supposed to tone things down a bit when it's hot, with distance or intensity or both. Especially when it's hot and humid. I felt like I was dying during my run yesterday. I was practically shuffeling along I was going so slow. An old man creeping along with his cane probably could've kept up with me. But whatever, I got my mileage in. Hopefully, this too shall pass. Oh, and don't forget to stay hydrated, drink tons of water! Good luck!

    By Blogger Rebecca, at 9:43 AM  

  • This seems really basic, but in addition to toning it down a bit when it's hot, are you getting enough water? When it's hot and humid you need 10-12 glasses or more of water per day, not 8. And when you're exercising in hot, humid weather, you need 2-4 additional glasses a day per hour of activity. Walking to and from the train also counts. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but if I don't get enough water the day before (like Monday!), my workout the following day will be junk (like yesterday!). And my gym is air conditioned.

    Also, what do you wear when you work out? When I do yoga at home, I wear a bikini, but a sports bra and underwear will work. There's no reason why you have to work out in a t-shirt and shorts unless people can see in. Might get Hub out of bed too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 AM  

  • I'm not a runner, but I play one in my imagination. However, I agree with other posters that you should cut down intensity or duration, perhaps take a day off to recoup your energy and enthusiasm. Is there a mall you can walk in until the worst of the heat abates?

    By Blogger The Troescher Team, at 10:07 AM  

  • Can you run outside? I simply cannot run when it gets too hot & humid. I get physically sick. So I get up pretty early at times for long runs! Sounds like it would be cooler if you could get outdoors. But yes, heat will definitely affect performance, including your heart rate.

    By Blogger neca, at 10:48 AM  

  • I'm not a runner, but having grown up in the South, I've spent a LOT of time in intense heat, and I have learned a couple things.
    (1) heat is literally wilting. it will wilt you and me and everyone else. do NOT overexert yourself if your body is pushing back - you could wind up in the hospital. a friend of mine had a heatstroke that nearly killed him. your body is talking to you - listen to it.
    (2) hydration. you need SO much water in the heat, especially when exercising. if dehydrated you will feel EXHAUSTED, barely able to move at times. take a load off, and rehydrate. and, it takes a while for the water to get back into all the parts of your body.

    try not to beat yourself up. every body has to adjust to extreme conditions like these. take it slow. this is still a process. good luck, Meg!

    By Blogger Wendy, at 10:54 AM  

  • What about a gym membership? That way you always have a place that is nice and cool...or comfortable when it's cold, to do your workout! If it would possibly fit into your budget or schedule =) Those kinds of feelings for me, are a sign that I need a day of rest. My body/emotions are trying to let me know. Hang in there!

    By Anonymous JenD, at 11:03 AM  

  • Investing in one of those jumbo stand-fans might be worth it. You can perch that right in front of your treadmill and be hit with a blast of air throughout your run.

    By Blogger k, at 11:11 AM  

  • I agree with Neca that running outside would likely provide you more of a breeze and shade. What about running on the 'mill in the evenings, when the sun has set and the temperature dropped.

    I live in Texas, and the heat does affect performance, even if you get acclimatized.

    Anyway to move the treadmill into the air conditioned part of the home?

    By Blogger Megan, at 11:12 AM  

  • Ok. Like everyone else said, it's completely normal to see some performance dip in hot weather like this. You should tone it down, AND make sure you're getting plenty of water. I am from TX originally, and would only run early in the morning or after dark -- otherwise it's just too darned hot. Also, like others have suggested, running outside (where you can maybe catch a breeze) might help, too. Best of luck. Just the fact you're worried about this says a lot about your commitment. You're doing great!

    By Blogger Pamela, at 11:20 AM  

  • Hi Meg

    I have just a few comments. Hope they help. It sounds like you have a few issues happening. First, I'm assuming you are still following BFL and doing fasted HIIT in the morning. Having done essentially BFL since August 2004, I will tell you that while fasted HIIT might give you the best bang for your buck for calorie burn, for performance....IT IS JUST CRAP. So, if your muscles are feeling really weak & glycogen depleted (which can happen even with 40% of calories from carbs), eat before you run...1/2 a banana or 1/2 a banana & 1/2 a scoop of whey perhaps 10-15 minutes before you run. So, 60 to 150 calories to help you get going.
    I do use a HR monitor and yes heat can kill my runs. I have been slow ridiculously sluggish lately on my runs. It's not my nutrition, it's not my endurance, it's the heat. Alas. So, in the BFL spirit of things....find your level 5 for that morning, find your level 6, for that morning, etc. Unfortunately a lot of external things may effect where those are. A fan will help. Also, change it up...if you have been doing speed intervals, try doing incline intervals at a constant slower speed.
    hang in there.

    By Anonymous Cathy, at 11:35 AM  

  • First take a breather...

    Now I'm not a runner either, but I am on the fitness train and trying to exercise in 85 degrees, well, it would seem like walking in a sauna. Like others have said, get plenty water and tone down intensity.

    Also consider less clothes, or going outside early in the morning or in the evening.

    By Blogger Nikki, at 12:53 PM  

  • While it is very important to be hydrated, it is also very important not to dilute your sodium too much. There have been a lot of articles lately about over-hydrating (runners in particular) and, frankly, I'm not sure how much water is appropriate anymore. Here's an interesting link:
    Good luck, Meg!

    By Anonymous Ellen, at 1:04 PM  

  • I asked this very question this morning, after a frustratingly difficult 5mi- that was easy a month ago. Because the other thing I do is Bikram yoga (in a 100 degree room), I wondered if I might be getting some of the same claimed benefits..? Elevated heart rate leading to greater cardio benefits. However, if standing on one leg is hard in the heat, maybe the heart-stress of propelling forward is dangerously great. A scan of the Internet suggests that sweat glands bear the brunt of stress, and that the best thing to do is wear as little as possible, to have more skin to breathe with, and try to acclimate, which takes a few weeks to a month.

    A valuable resource is Runner's World online, at

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 PM  

  • I am so not a runner... but I've walked. I've had to walk in this oppresive summer heat and humidity. I can tell you that just walking is hard enough when it's like this.

    Okay, I'm in much worse shape than you are. Okay, I have a "touch" of asthma... but Meg, give yourself a break! I am not saying stop working out... but what about trying something inside, where there is AC? Aerobics, a video, walking in place... anything to get you off the hot sun porch. A SUN porch, for crying out loud, Meg! Of course you're crying...

    I've been in that "breaking point" moment... I know the questioning you're dealing with. The whole, am I being a baby? line of self-doubt.

    You are NOT being a baby. In fact, I think you need some babying... a soak in the tub, or a good book... I'd say a cup of tea (maybe make it iced?).

    Point is, you are allowed to reach your limit. It doesn't make you a baby - it just means you're human, and not super athlete.


    Hope you feel better soon... and please be careful with yourself, okay?

    By Anonymous Mae, at 2:07 PM  

  • Last summer I started running, and I lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas, hot and humid is an understatment. I agree with others about running outside, but also, for me, it had to be before dawn. Running in the morning before the sun came up was the only way to deal with the heat. It's not always convienant for lifestyle but it is much easier. Good luck.

    By Blogger Syd, at 2:53 PM  

  • Calm down mate...(hug).What answers would you come up with for a friend who said this to you? Lowering your intensity for a while does not mean you will instantly become a lard arse and that every day of your hard work has been a waste. What, the BFL police are going to come in and kick you off the program? You are doing that all-or-nothing thinking you want to give up!! Pick some or all of the suggestions you've already had: Drink more. Buy a bigger fan and have it going straight on you. Walk on your treadmill insted of run. Run outside if it's cool enough. Eat something. Enough crap runs will turn you against running - cut yourself some slack for heavens sake.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 PM  

  • Meg, I totally know what you mean on the fear of backsliding. Sometimes I actually think "this is all so wonderful...when are they going to find out what a fake I am and take it all away?" Or better yet "I didn't feel like working out tonight...does this mean I'll never feel like working out again?"

    Hon, it is hot as balls outside. There comes a point at which you are not being a wuss--it really is too hot to be out there exerting yourself for any period of time. Your body is telling you to take it easy, and you should listen. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are nothing to be trifiled with, nor is water intoxication. Can you put a fan out there? A fan and a misting bottle might go a long way towards helping keep you cool. I don't suppose it's possible to move the treadmill into one of the air conditioned rooms, is it?

    Short of that, my next recommendation would be some good intense cardio workout DVDs. You don't have to become a vidiot, but having a couple on hand for the days that it's just too hot to go outside could help keep you on track.

    I'm sorry your struggling. I think I have a pretty good handle on how you feel, and it's no fun. The fortunate thing is that summer doesn't go on forever.

    By Anonymous Julie, at 10:34 PM  

  • Wow, look at all these comments. I can only add my voice to the mix, which is to say that two weeks ago I ran a marathon (26.2 miles. Which you know. But I like saying it.) And now that I'm back in the horrendous DC heat and humitity, I can barely get two miles before wanting to die. It sucks, is what it does.

    But I totally feel you on the, "but if I don't run a gazillion miles today that means I'm lazy and I'm right back where I started which is fat and out of shape and what am I going to do?"

    I figure I've just got to keep plugging, even if it means lower mileage/slower pace.

    By Blogger Noames, at 10:53 PM  

  • oh dude... i hear you on the Fear thing. i couldn't motivate my arse last night to go RPM and was overwhelmed by panic and a churning gut, thinking, "what if I don't do it EVER again? i'll wake up the next day and all the fat will be back". like i have just been an undercover agent for the past 4.5 years pretending to be someone leading a healthier lifestyle. my cover could be blown at any time!

    as for practical solutions, i guess everyone has covered it. i used to get up at 5am in Australia and do my walk then coz it was just so bloody smothering at any other hour... but you already get up early for your BFL stuff don't you? arrgh...

    By Anonymous dietgirl, at 9:21 AM  

  • The next time you think its too hot to exercise, think about people living in countries where heat is not an option.

    I live in the tropics where its ALWAYS hot and humid all year round. A short 10 min walk (even a slow one) will leave you pespiring under the scorching sun. Even so, the weather here isn't as bad in North Asia and the Middle East where temperatures go up to 50 degrees celcius in summer.

    So hang in there, and think about it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 PM  

  • Hi Meg,
    Where I live it's about 95° every day this summer. I would NEVER run indoors. I understand your husband but you couldn't you just run around your block? That way you're within 5 minutes of your house at all times. When it's really hot I swim or bike instead. The heat WILL slow you down so don't get upset if you feel yourself running slower.

    By Blogger Julia, at 3:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home