Desert Running

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Friday, April 22, 2016

I've got almost 250 miles under my belt since moving to Yuma. Running in the desert is much different than running in Virginia. The adjustment to the heat, the dry air, and the sun has not been easy. My body has definitely felt the difference and many runs that were supposed to be 'easy' were in fact hard because of the new conditions. A few things I've learned so far include:

1) Cover up. The sun is what makes everything hot. Wearing a T-shirt is better than a tanktop. Wearing a hat is almost a must. And sunglasses make the sun bearable. I don't leave for a run now without a hat and sunglasses.

Mistake! I didn't wear a hat or glasses on this run. I paid for it.

2) Water is my friend. Almost every run I bring water. Unless it is cool, early in the day, or less than 5 miles, I bring water. Yes, it's annoying to carry water but it is necessary. Sometimes it's just a mental help. Knowing I can wet my mouth as it gets dry becomes like a security blanket. I've been using this handheld water bottle made by Nathan because it is less annoying than a hip one. Full review coming soon.

3) Take it easy. When it's hot, I just have to go slower. My body is experiencing more stress and it's not fair to expect it to preform the same when I'm working hard to stay cool. This is hard because I want to be able to run the same as when the conditions are perfect. But training in the heat actually has its benefits. It has the same effect on your body as training at altitude.
"Training in the heat incurs several physiological adaptations, known as heat acclimation. One of the primary adaptations to heat acclimation is an increase in blood plasma volume. Just as altitude stimulates your body to produce more red blood cells, heat stress stimulates your body to produce more blood plasma. A higher plasma volume enhances circulation, which improves the delivery of oxygen to muscles. The result is a greater cardiac output, and higher VO2max at a given effort level, enhancing endurance performance." (source)
4) The desert is beautiful. I've seen a roadrunner, a burrowing owl, a snake, and lots of cactus. The desert is a very pretty place and it's worth stopping (in the shade) and enjoying the scenery.

A hummingbird best.

5) Tacos are recovery food! Sketchy street vendors make the best tacos. And around Yuma we have lots of places to choose from. After a run, it's a good idea to grab a cerveza with lime and some carne asade tacos with fresh pico. You can thank me later.