The Heat Is On

If you looked up to DJ Tanner as much as I did circa 1992, you know that doing something just because everyone else is doing it can never end well. Case in point: you shouldn’t cut school just because everyone else is doing it. You shouldn’t stairmaster until you faint just because everyone else is doing it. You shouldn’t execute a Chinese fire drill in Kimmy Gibbler’s sweet ride on a San Francisco incline just because everyone else is doing it.

The lessons of my childhood continue to offer sound advice today. I shouldn’t skip a workout just because everyone else is skipping it. I shouldn’t drink tequila just because everyone else is drinking it. I shouldn’t get a haircut just because everyone else is getting it.

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Yes I should.

So why, oh why, when I see other runners bundling head to toe to counter this week’s inaugural fall weather do I get the urge to jump on the bandwagon and do exactly the same thing, even though I know I’m a much more hot-blooded runner than 98 percent of the population? Because DJ Tanner taught me nothing, apparently. And because I’m a glutton for sweaty, blistering, uncomfortable punishment.

If you ran Central Park this morning as the temperatures grazed 40 degrees for the first time, you probably saw hundreds of exercisers in layers and sweats and gloves and caps and Tauntauns trying to stave off the early chill. And I can understand why. After a positively balmy October to date (if only there were some science to explain this strange rise in temperatures…), waking to an honest-to-god autumn climate probably shocked some runners into hauling out their winter gear.

Heck, even Runner’s World’s interactive “what to wear” guide suggested I don tights, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, a light jacket and a winter cap for today’s 5-mile easy run in 40-degree air. They even drew a picture.

Why yes, I DO have a ponytail, you smart machine, you.

Why yes, I DO have a ponytail, you brilliant machine, you.

I didn’t go that far, but I did trade in my usual shorts for long pants and layer a compression Under Armour jacket over my tank.

And my god, I was miserable. Sure, the first five minutes were toasty warm and a nice counter to the 5:50 a.m. chill. But by the time I got to the park, I had practically sweated through my winter gear, making my two loops of the reservoir hot, stuffy and uncomfortable indeed. After 2.5 marathon training cycles and thousands of miles on my feet, I know that I prefer to run in too little clothing than too much. So why did I choose to bulk up just because everyone else was doing it?

Luckily, today’s unpleasantness only lasted 45 minutes, but it’s a good lesson as the marathon fast approaches. On Nov. 23, I need to remember not to overdress just because everyone else is doing. I need to remember not to start out sprinting just because everyone else is doing it. I need to remember not to skip the water stations just because everyone else is doing it.

In short, I need to run my marathon, not anybody else’s. If I can do that, I know I’ll make Uncle Jesse proud.

What are you targeting as your fall marathon nears?

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2 Responses to The Heat Is On

  1. This is what I truly fear as I prepare to run the Tokyo marathon. I come from the Philippines, which only has three seasons – hot, wet, and Christmas! I have no experience on what to wear to keep myself warm when I do Tokyo in February!

    • Layers! I’ve done some cold weather marathons and definitely wear throw away sweats to the start line and leave them for charity. Then as you run, shed additional layers by tying them around your waist. You’ll do great. Good luck out there!

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