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Headed Into Fall — A Blog by Trainer Dan Van Veen

Recently my part of the country has been experiencing cooler temps MUCH earlier than typical years – a real taste of fall weather. Oh, I’m still expecting heat and humidity to come back and visit for a few weeks here, but soon fall will be here for real.

What I enjoy about fall is after training through the summer in the heat and humidity, the fall weather makes everything so much easier. Fall weather actually makes slogging through the summer worth it, because your body doesn’t have to work near as hard to keep cool. To me, it’s amazing how much better the body performs in the cooler temperatures.

Okay, many of you are probably thinking, “Yeah, I know what you’re talking about…, but so?” Well, here’s the deal. If fall-ish type weather hasn’t come to your part of the country yet, keep on training, it’s coming. BUT what you might think about doing is at least giving yourself the option of a longer-than-planned for race or a faster-than-planned-for race because you’ll likely be capable of it. : )

First consider where you are right now in your training. If you can do 5 miles (for example) right now in the heat and what you’re looking for is to run your longest race ever (that being a 10K), a 15K is WELL within your reach by the end of the month (assuming the cooler weather hits). If you are working towards getting a PR in a 5K race and you’ve been doing some speed work in the heat, where you’re hitting certain key times (like in a ladder workout), when the cool weather hits, drop those target times by a few seconds…it shouldn’t be hard to do (just be sure you warm-up properly).

The whole idea here is to take advantage of your body running in its comfort zone when it comes to weather. Even if you can’t put additional training time in, the cooler weather will make whatever race you’re doing so much easier. if you’re going for a PR in a race and you’ve been training in 70 or 80 degree weather and now you’re racing in the 50s, what you have to watch for is that you don’t leave your race strategy in the summer heat… meaning that you finish the race and you still have speed left in the tank, because you were USED to having your body start struggling…with the cooler weather, your body takes longer to overheat (if at all).

So, my advice in a 5K PR attempt is to run the first mile as planned, evaluate yourself at the end of the first mile and if you’re feeling great, stay at your same level of effort (because we all know that first mile it’s almost impossible to not to go faster than you planned, so don’t pull it back if you did…stay at that comfortable, but faster pace : ). As you finish the second mile, divide the race into 4 quarter miles remaining and race each quarter mile with the idea that you want to do each of the quarters faster than the previous one so that you’re not only flying the last 1/10th, you’re having to dig deep to maintain pace…that way you cross the finish line spent, knowing you’ve given this race your best effort, and the PR is hopefully achieved. If not, you’ve given it an effort that you won’t look back and say, “If I only…” : )

Well, there are a lot of fun races this fall. Keep in mind, even in cooler weather, you still need to stay hydrated…low humidity just allows the sweat to evaporate more quickly, so it makes it tougher to judge how much liquid you’re losing. : )

Have an awesome run today!

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