Beginner’s Triathlon Training: Running In the Heat

Hilary running for team for kids

I’ve been running now for four years. This past year I completed two half marathons — one in March and one in May. So running 8 miles is something I’m used to.

But for some reason, today’s run was treacherous!

My coach had 8 miles on the Training Peaks schedule, so I decided to do it on the Wantagh Parkway.  I figured four miles out from Wantagh to Jones Beach and four miles back.  It seemed doable.  I’ve done it dozens of times this year without a problem.  But today, it was a problem.

The first mile, my knee started bothering me but I ignored it.  The second mile was okay. Mile 3 and 4 started getting rough but I forced myself not to turn around. I only had two 8 ounce bottles of water and a couple of packets of Gu.  I was finding myself reaching for the water more often than I thought I would.  (There is no water on the route and there’s no shade.)

It was hot. The air was still and I was having a hard time breathing. I felt as if there was no oxygen. I started to see black spots during mile four and by mile five I was walking. I tried to find shade. I just needed to sit and get my heart rate down. It was at 145 while walking. I was running out of water. I saw an older couple taking a break and I asked them if I could get some water from them. The man was kind enough to fill up my 8 ounce bottle. I drank it. It tasted great. I needed that.

Mile 5, 6 and 7 were torture. I walked most of the way. I tried to run but I couldn’t get enough air and was so dry and so hot I just felt as if I couldn’t go on. I looked down at my legs and arms and noticed that I got a heat rash. The inside of my legs were burning from the scraping of my shorts.

When will this be over??? I kept asking myself.  Another 1.5 miles to go.

I called my husband. “I can’t go on,” I said. “I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’m dizzy. I see black spots and I’m getting a rash all over my body.”

He told me to take it easy and take my time.

Finally, I saw the mile sign to Cedar Park. Okay, I thought, I could do this. Just a little more to go. I kept wishing there was water. I was sweating so much everything was sticking to me. I started to feel depressed that I wasn’t accomplishing my goal. I wanted to do these 8 miles in an hour and 20 minutes and instead it was taking me more than two hours. I was feeling frustrated.

When I finally reached the car, I turned on the air conditioning and drank a 24 ounce bottle of water that I had sitting on ice.

It wasn’t a great 8 mile run/walk but at least I did it….