By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
June 25, 2015
I think every blog I do for the summer will begin with “I really hate the freaking summer time in Arizona!” There is no time that is worse in this part oft he country than the summer. If you live in an old house like mine, it gets worse since the ventilation is terrible and the house can get as hot as 100 degrees! I guess I am used to it, for my jalopy doesn't have air conditioning. So I found it kind of funny a couple days ago when I was working out at Parsons, where I heard people complaining about the fact the gym was a “warm,” 74 degrees. Heck, even with the darn cooler on high and the swamp system working properly, my house is still 80 degrees or hotter during the day. When I keep the cooler off (which is almost all the time, it can get to 100 degrees! I guess this means very few people will be joining me to taste of my “Heater” chili or my spicy barbecue lentils. But it would be nice to live in a comfortable climate for once in my life, which is why I have actually put out some inquiries about jobs in Denver (where my sister and my cousin live) and Seattle (most vegan friendly city in the states!). Now some people might say “Well, what about the cold!” Hey, I’m still a good sized man and even if I do hit my goal weight of 230 pounds (or less!) I will still have a lot of skin and body to keep myself warm. Plus I have two furry heat packs that can keep me warm during the cold months (my pups love sleeping with me during the winter). People keep saying I should move to Phoenix, but the intention of my life is to not move someplace hotter and more miserable. For crying out loud, it has been 110+ degrees in that city for the last couple weeks!
The really tough thing about living in a hot climate is the fact you really become lazy. Each of the last few summers I have had this problem, and each summer I drag my butt and peel my skin off the couch to get to my workouts. I’ve reached that point of the year where I have to start bringing my own towel to the gym, because the little towels that are provided are much too small for my needs. I used to go through two or three a workout, depending on what time of the day it was. Without my big towels, I would be mopping up the whole gym probably, maybe even going through the whole towel supply. I have been known to sweat so profusely, one time in middle school I accidentally left my sweaty soccer shirt behind, which my old coach Robin Thomas picked it up and took it home. He jokingly gave it back to me the next day, saying he nearly threw out his shoulder just picking up the sweat-laden brick! Yeah, I get a lot of those kind of jokes, especially when I show up to my workout “pre-sweat” rather than dry. People always complain about the heat at work, but it is nothing for me, even when I work in the truck loading section where it can get hot and sweaty. It was really nothing for me, for my only real complaint is how the darn box edges tear up my arms and leave me looking like some poor soul that enjoys cutting himself.
This is where my fitness starts turning into a chore rather than a desire. Last year, I made my first real effort to work out during the summer months. The previous couple years I had either suffered a weird sickness or gotten some sort of injury that prohibited my progress. My bitching and moaning must have gotten pretty old after a while, for my antics of frustration and displeasure really inhibited me. I often times answered my disgust for myself with a “special” meal at Chipotle or something, which turned into a regular thing. So yes, a year after the fact, I kind of fell into an old habit of eating my feelings. While the food may have been better for me, I was still eating way too much. My effort may not have been hindered too much by weight gain, but my actual results certainly had some trouble. But that is how a little learning can help you out in the long run. While I have been a little lazy to start this year, I have taken some good lessons from the “Summer of Hell 2014” and applied them liberally. I have taken fewer long runs and have even done some short runs in higher temperatures (100-degree weather just seems worse with the sun shining on you). Right now I am still trying to increase my distance, but the weather is something I have to consider into the equation. I’ve often wondered just why I continue to try and train during the summer months? I mean, my sleep patterns are disrupted quite often and I just seem to have a whole lot of trouble getting myself motivated. And now here is the bigger question. Is doing this even good for me? http://www.mensfitness.com/training/endurance/the-heat-wave-workout-how-to-train-in-hot-weather
Turns out some people are starting to think working out in the heat is beneficial. While it might not be as spiritual as say a Bikram Yoga session, the results seem to be presenting some interesting ideas. For years, we have considered high altitude training as the pinnacle of endurance testing. But a small survey may have put a small chink in the armor. According to the Men’s Fitness article, cyclists that worked out in 100-degree heat performed much better than their peers who performed in cooler settings. How does this happen? The prevailing idea centers around the idea of pushing your body to places it has never been before, acclimating yourself to an exercise regimen that is much more extreme than what most competitions operate at. If you work out in 100-degree weather (which is kind of what I am doing) and perform at top level, think of what can happen if you compete in a 70-degree environment. According to the initial data, a person can maintain a much higher degree of speed improvement, which is a problem with high altitude training. To do so sounds a little scary, for one would have to maintain a high body core temperature as well as put at least 60-minutes into the endeavor. This sounds like the kind of thing that would lead to a lot heat strokes and black outs, but here is my personal experience. When I ran Ragnar Del Sol this past year, I was completely ill prepared for the heat on my first leg, gunning way too fast and giving myself a soaring headache. If I had prepared my body a little better, I might have done a little better on the horrifying second leg I had to run. My inability to adapt to heat also caught up to me at the Arizona Distance Classic (among other things), where my body kind of bled out out too fast in regards to my fluids. Now there is going to be a lot of people that will contend that high altitude will always be superior, but think about the 2014 World Cup. While the United States didn’t do too great, handling the awful weather of Brazil was never an issue for them, unlike several other countries. The article indicates it is better to do this level of training in mostly dry weather, for humidity can hinder the process regardless, dragging you down due to the amount of fluids in the air. Now some people might not want to participate in this kind of training due to the fact they have little desire to work on their tan, which is why high altitude training is still quite attractive. http://www.livescience.com/32750-why-do-athletes-train-at-high-altitudes.html
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.