Coach's Corner: Exposure to Heat
Through September to end of November last year, my husband and I took our kids to India while we worked in a childrens home doing some building renovations. I had mentally prepared myself for training in India knowing I had planned a 50km run in March (which was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid, but I ran 50km anyway). While I had mentally prepared myself to do strength and conditioning training in the heat, it took a few weeks of running, and training with two dumbbells before I was able to comfortably breathe through the heat. By the end of our time there, I had started wearing hoodies in the mornings to keep from getting cold while I trained (cold was 20 degrees C!). On returning to NZ, I found myself comfortably running and training in our summer ‘heat’ when usually I would have only trained in the early hours of the day.
It had me thinking though this week about how when we are exposed to hotter climates, we go through a period of discomfort before we acclimatize (if we’re lucky enough to be exposed to it for a period of time). So too, with us, when we are exposed to difficult situations, we have to walk (or crawl) through a period of heat and discomfort before we can come out the other side. The more we are exposed to, the more we have the opportunity to grow and slowly, gradually, we become better equipped to journey another season. But only if we take the opportunity.
I’ve spent the last four weeks learning to follow a running programme after having previously written all my own programming. The concept was foreign to me - running longer, and slower, in order to get faster and better. Through research though, I have found that if I increase the size of my foundation (for me, this meant increasing the amount I was running) I would increase the capacity (how far and how fast I could run). It seems like common sense to many people, but for me, I had run my last 100km off mainly CrossFit and just a couple of runs a week. While this worked for me, I had my doubts about whether it would work for 100miles, hence signing up with a coach.
This week I had a 5km TT - I ran the same course that I have run for the last several years - where I set a PB five years ago, and one that I’ve been sporadically trying to achieve again ever since. My times seemed to get slower, or running would feel harder, until this week, where I managed to shave almost two minutes off my personal best.
What does this have to do with gold, heat, and challenges? I think sometimes, we want to achieve things, but we don’t want to expose ourselves to the pressure that we will have to go under to achieve it. We like the idea of standing on a podium, chasing a big dream, or even running after a 5km PB, but the thought of the pain that that might take can sometimes be the very thing that holds us back. However, if we don’t expose ourselves to the flame, to the pain, and the hurt, we don’t really grow, and we don’t really achieve anything. We scrape through with our ‘good enough’ knowing that we really wanted our ‘very best’ but we settle for less to avoid the pain.