You Never Forget Your First Marathon

Rather than write a post about my pre-marathon jitters (48 hours to go!!), today I'm turning this post over to my friend Faisal, who recently completed his first marathon this past October, the Detroit Free Press Marathon.  I met Faisal over a year ago through the fitness classes that I coach, and I was fortunate enough to coach him through his first marathon training cycle.  Faisal has made such amazing fitness gains since I have known him, and he has a wonderful way with words, which you will find out for yourself.  He has a very bright running future ahead of him.  The goal, as it should be for your first marathon, was to finish with a smile on his face.  Mission accomplished!  If you are a marathon veteran, this will take you back to your first, and if you have never completed a marathon, this just might inspire you to sign up for one!  Here we go:

I knew I had hit an all-time low in my running career as both hamstrings simultaneously cramped when I crossed mile 14 and couldn’t jog another step without excruciating pain. I thought I had run a strategically sound race thus far – negative splits every 5k, while taking my time at fluid stations and fueling every 5-6 miles. Waddling along, I saw the 4:00 pacer pass me. My eyes swelled; my throat tightened; waves of realization crashed over me. I tried to pull out my phone to text my running coach, Sara, only to see my hands fumbling like uncoordinated puppets. So, THIS is what it’s like to run a marathon.

Just over a year ago, I never had any desire to run. It was my least favorite way to exercise. I was obese and inactive in high school. In fact, when PE class conducted fitness tests, I ran the mile in 15 minutes. Circumstances navigated me through murky marshes of self-doubt and the stifling vacuum of vacillation to meet life-altering mentors like Sara, who somehow saw potential in my running ability (or lack thereof). I had never even run a 5k. Little did I know … Sara was my first glimpse into the spirit of running and marathoning.

I think my willingness to give running a shot was one of the best decisions of my life. In October 2016, I ran my first 10k and surprised myself, finishing in 49:11. Two weeks later, I registered for a half marathon. I found myself waking in winter darkness, slipping on my balaclava, gloves, and layers of running gear to brave the bitter wind chills and snow. As 2017 began, I wanted to sign up for the Detroit Free Press International half marathon, but registered instead for the full on a whim. The commitment was made. Had I gone bonkers? Maybe. Did I think I could do it? Hell yes. Because my first glimpse of marathoning was this incredible Wonder Woman whom I didn’t even know that well (at the time), and she believed in me so strongly that I was nonplussed. Why would someone do that? “What in flaming salamanders does she see in me?” I thought. I still do.

In attempting to follow a structured training regiment, I quickly discovered that I desperately needed guidance. Sara took me under her wing, and I embarked on a journey of growth I will never forget. Training was wonderfully brutal, yet flexible. I was gasping for air during threshold paces. My legs were screaming after every 200m repeat. Long runs started at 12 miles, and I dreaded how long it would feel once I hit 20. I remember many mornings where getting out the door was impossible because my mind thought I couldn’t handle it. But as legendary ultra-runner Jeff Edmonds remarked, “Training is doing your homework. It’s not exciting. More often than not, it’s tedious. There is certainly no glory in it. But you stick with it, over time, and incrementally, through no specific session, your body changes. Your mind becomes calloused to effort. You stop thinking of running as difficult or interesting or magical. It just becomes what you do. It becomes a habit.”

And it did. I began to eagerly await Saturday morning long runs with my training partner, Jill. Our runs would begin at 4:45 a.m., which meant I was up at 2:45 a.m. I remember carbing up the night before, regulating my bathroom breaks, discovering which pre-run fuel worked, and understanding my body better. From nightmarish bathroom experiences, to leg cramps and side stitches, to my first blue toenail, Jill’s jovial personality made every mile not only bearable, but

thoroughly enjoyable. We would constantly remind each other that at the end of our runs, there were stacks of pumpkin pancakes and whipped cream with our names on them. Many uncensored conversations about topics I would never dream of discussing otherwise were had. I remember naming a particular hill as the perfect laxative. I remember when my Garmin first lied to me, clocking a 4:40 mile. I remember the pain. I remember embracing it. And I remember becoming a better person because of it.

Whilst I was ecstatic about my increased calorie intake (hellooooo carbs!), my body was changing. I lost ten pounds. Vascularity and muscle mass decreased, and I struggled to accept it. But as the weeks elapsed, my lungs were noticeably stronger, my legs had adjusted to the mileage, and self-esteem shot up. Sara was with me every step of the way, providing feedback on my splits, advising me on what to focus on, and reassuring me when I was discouraged. I didn’t feel like I had a coach. I felt like I was talking to a long-time friend.

During peak training a month out from the Free Press marathon, I cross-trained probably more than I should have, while running 40-45 miles a week. The one lesson I learned during times of fatigue was to trust in your training. When runs felt harder than expected, I reminded myself to trust Sara and trust in my tenacity.

It is said that the second hardest part of running a marathon is the taper madness. During the final three weeks of training, although my exterior may have appeared calm and nonchalant, internally I was increasingly erratic, irrational, and paranoid. I questioned my readiness, thought I should run more, and yearned to eat mountains of desserts as a coping mechanism. I googled marathon tips, strategized plans A through Z for race day, and cared too much about the timing my carb loading. Bottles of Purell filled my car’s armrest, and I was sanitizing my hands at work every ten minutes because I was scared to fall ill. Coworkers were giving me weird looks and family was perplexed.

Two weeks since popping my marathon cherry, I’ve finally been able to digest my training and race experience. Friends and coworkers have congratulated me on finishing. Family has hosted a dinner to help me refuel. Sara is, I think, much happier than I was. And that bothered me.

Why was I not an emotional kaleidoscope post-race? Was this guilt? Could I have given more? Maybe it’s because I missed that one threshold workout several weeks ago. Or I didn’t hydrate enough. Or I underestimated the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel’s effects. What was I expecting, really? The fairy tale 3:35 debut for a guy who’d only run two 1:50 half marathons and was nowhere near the level of fitness expected for that kind of time? That too, when obscene humidity and windy weather made for tough running conditions? These thoughts pounded in my head for four nights following the race.

Then came the epiphany. I remember a surreal feeling in mile 23. Sara, as well as my wonderful training partner, Jill, texted me within minutes of each other, as I rounded the bend exiting Belle Isle.

“I’m pulling for you, my friend! Keep going!!”

“Keep going!! I’m here! You’re doing great!”

I felt my pain subside a bit. Their unshakeable faith in my ability reminded me again of the marathon spirit. Here I was, running, of my own volition. And there they all were - volunteers, customs agents, law enforcement officials, families, fans, Jill and Sara, of their own volition – unconditionally reminding me how capable I was.

I was sad. I was mad. I cried, and yes, I sulked. I wished I could rewind and prepare differently - do that threshold run I missed, eat better, hydrate. But reality gives nothing back, and neither should I. I gave this race everything. Dwelling too much on what could have been, or what could be, made me forget what is. I am a marathoner.

The greatest lesson the marathon teaches is that by focusing on the mini milestones along the way, one finds beauty in the struggle of doing the simplest of things. Each mile marker, each turn, each construction cone, the next street lamp, that oak tree at the corner, that fire hydrant, the next aid station, that power-up sign held by a spectator … all remind us that our limits are not where we think they are. I could still jog, despite my hamstring issues. I could still smile. My GI system was cooperating. And with each mini milestone I passed, the belief that I could cross that finish line grew. The same belief that Sara and Jill had in me. And I am now a better runner for it.

So, when thoughts of, “I can’t do this. I am not worthy, and I am not capable” flashed across my mind during miles 14-20 after my hamstrings gave out, I found myself fighting back, gutturally uttering words of resilience. “I am capable, I am healthy, I am strong, I am running, I am free, I am thankful.” It took several miles for the influx of positivity to turn into determined grit. “Whatever I have, give. Bring it out today. Right now. Everything. Be free.” I jog-walked through residential areas, absorbing the Halloween decorations and hilariously creative signs of supporters. A baby high fived me at mile 17. A group of people had erected a fake brick wall at mile 18 and were encouraging racers to run through it. A basketball hoop had been hung over a trash can at an aid station on Belle Isle. Two points for me! Once I began to focus on the marathon experience, the race took on a new meaning.

After I exited Belle Isle and processed Sara and Jill’s texts, I remember the biting wind during mile 24 as we ran along the Riverwalk. Of course, I WOULD be running into wind during the final 5k. My right hamstring’s final plea shot down my leg as an enthusiastic man tried to shovel Fireball my way. Flashes of my dad swimming laps at the YMCA dissolved into the numerous failures I’d experienced in my life. I remembered them all. With a guttural growl and tear-laden eyes, I reminded myself of four things:

“This is not how the story is going to end. I am not limping across the finish line.”

“If I want to grow, I have got to suffer. Come here, pain! Let me hug you.”

“You feel like you’re crumbling, but this is not your destruction. This is your birth.”

“Do it for yourself, do it for Sara, for Jill. Hell, do it for pancakes and cupcakes. Just #$@!*& DO IT!”

As the hamstring pain ebbed, I was side-by-side with the man who had sang the national anthems of both Canada and the United States at race’s start. In a brief chat with him, I discovered he was running his 30th marathon THIS YEAR. Flabbergasted, I congratulated him, and he reassured me that I would finish strong, because marathoners always do. And that reminded me of Hal Higdon’s remark, “If you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you if you look closely enough.” Finishing a marathon is the triumph of desire over reason. Your body screams a thousand reasons why you should give up, but you ignore them anyway.

I slogged up the final hill and made the turn for the finish line. If my jaw could have dropped, it would have. Crowds lined both sides of the street, their thundering cheers propelling every runner forward. I felt the hairs on my arm rise, and a cauldron of elation began to bubble in the pit of my stomach. Jill was screaming herself hoarse on my right. I pointed up to the heavens in gratitude as I crossed the finish line. I felt numb at first. I didn’t know what to feel. A volunteer wrapped me in a race blanket and handed me water. As I made my way to the racers’ exit, I knelt along a building’s wall. And tears began to flow for no reason. Just as they are as I’m writing this. I would like to think it is joy, but gold-medalist and long-distance runner Emil Zatopek’s observation is perfectly fitting: “If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”

Positivity during the first 11 miles, doubt at miles 12-13, devastating disappointment and fear of failure at 14, frustration at 15, acceptance at 16, appreciation at 17-19, elation at 20, mental ping pong at 21-22, reassurance at 23, pain at 24, determination at 25, and adrenaline at 26.

THAT is what it’s like to run a marathon. I can’t wait to experience it again.

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26.2 Success!!  

10 Weeks Until Indy Monumental!

Just typing the title of this post makes me nervous.  My training for this race has been a little "less" this cycle than I can remember in recent years.  There are a few reasons for this - first, I am working under the guidance of a coach, not coaching myself, and second, the goal is to not repeat the mistake I made last fall of showing up in Indy a little overdone in terms of training.  I recently read an article about peaking in your fitness level too soon, and I'm pretty confident that is what happened in 2016.  I have adopted a way of thinking that it's better to show up a little under prepared than over trained.  A slight gap between your fitness level and your race goal can easily be bridged with a strong mental game.  I'm sure you've heard the saying that the marathon is 90% mental. This is my weakness - my mental game. And I need to fix it fast.  

As I've mentioned before, I don't love racing.  I love running.  Races tend to cause unnecessary stress, and who needs that?  I would love to get to a place where I see them as a fun challenge. When I look back at my past marathons, the ones I have enjoyed the most were the ones without a hard and fast goal.  Even the Boston Marathon this past spring turned into one of those races when the temperatures soared.  I threw my expectations out the window and ended up surprising myself with how strong I ran.  It was a blast!  So over the next 10 weeks, I need to learn how to view Indy with that same positivity in spite of having a big goal, because I really, really want to break three hours in the marathon.  It may not happen in 10 weeks, but I do feel it can happen in the near future.

I been listening to a lot of podcasts lately profiling runners similar to myself who have broken the three hour barrier and each time I reflect on what must be different between myself and that sub 3 runner.  On the surface, their training, diet, and overall lifestyle seem pretty comparable to mine.  Many of them started out as four hour or more marathoners (I finished my first marathon in 3:31), and steadily worked their way down.  If they can do it, why can't I?? What is holding me back??  It's my self-doubt.  Everyone in my life is so supportive of my goal and has no doubt I can run a marathon faster than three hours, but if it's going to happen, I have to truly believe it, too, and not let doubt creep in.  I like to think of myself as a pretty mentally strong person - I have successfully conquered anorexia, infertility,  and am the mother of a child with special needs.  These battles are not for the weak!  I need to transfer this same determination over to my running.

After I realized what was lacking, I shifted my focus to implementing strategies that will help me reach my goal.  I've recently read two books, pictured below, that have given me some great tools.  This is what I have in my arsenal so far:

  1. Stay present.  This means focusing on one mile at a time.  Not worrying about what's going to happen five or ten miles from now.  
  2. Acknowledge negative thoughts and let them go.  The letting go is the hard part for me.  Marathons are long, and if you have completed one, you know there are many ups and downs in that time frame.  When I hit a rough patch, I need to embrace it and not dwell on whatever is plaguing me.  It will soon pass.  Didn't hit my pace for a particular mile?  Let it go and focus on the mile ahead.
  3. Have a list of positive statements.  This is where I pull out my inner Stuart Smalley. "Smooth and relaxed", and "I can do hard things" have worked well for me in the past.  I recently listened to an interview with a 2:43 marathoner who stated she chants her goal pace over and over.  
Great reads!!

Great reads!!

I am running a half marathon next month that I will use as a dress rehearsal for practicing my new strategies.  It's going to take time to change my ways but now that I've realized the difference it could make, I already feel less stressed. 

As always, I love hearing from my friends who take the time to read what I write.  How do YOU stay positive when the going gets rough?  

Cupping Therapy - My New Love

First, thank you to all of you who sent emails, texts, and comments regarding my last post.  I am really, really glad I decided to share.  I discovered many of you hold the same disdain for running with a phone. There are two things I use to make this possible without too much annoyance.  The first is a Flip Belt, pictured below.  I have never had luck with running with anything around my waist for two reasons:  first, I believe it causes GI distress (for me).  Second, I feel like I can never get a secure fit and whatever I'm using bounces all over the place.  Not the case with the Flip Belt!  I can slide my phone, gels, whatever, into the belt and forget about it.

PC:  Flipbelt.com

PC:  Flipbelt.com

After my nerve wracking experience last week, I found a pretty sweet running bra from Lululemon (sorry, guys!) that has a pocket for your phone on the back of the bra!  I tried it today and loved it.

PC:  Lululemon.com

PC:  Lululemon.com

A few months ago I was discussing my perpetually cranky right hamstring/piriformis with a friend and she urged me to try her sports massage therapist who specializes in cupping.  Like many of you, when I think of cupping, I think of Michael Phelps and his odd bruises at the 2016 Olympics. Cupping is a treatment modality that is actually thousands of years old.  It is believed to alleviate pain, inflammation, and improve range of motion.  The suction created by the cups promotes blood flow to injured areas and loosens fascia.  

I decided I had nothing to lose.  I have tried physical therapy, ultrasound, and dry needling without much success.  (Side note - dry needling was amazing for my Achilles tendinitis!).  I admit I was a little nervous given the bruising I associated with the treatment.  

My massage therapist used a combination of deep tissue massage and cupping on my piriformis, hamstrings, calves, and feet during the one hour session.  I immediately noticed a difference - I could sit down without my piriformis screaming, and the range of motion in my hamstring was greatly improved. Did I bruise?  You bet.  However, I don't find the sessions painful at all.

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My first session was in June.  Since then I have been getting treated every other week and cannot believe how much better I feel.  My therapist has encouraged me to try the cupping on myself but I'm not quite ready for that!  If you are, here is an interesting article.

Any other cupping fans out there?

My Wake Up Call

What I'm going to talk about today is a little more serious than my usual posts, and I actually considered never writing about this at all, but if it helps one person become a little more cautious then it served its purpose.  I don't know for sure, and never will, if I was truly in danger but this incident has changed my way of thinking forever.

This past week I was spending time with my parents at their house in northern Michigan, a place I've visited for years.  When I'm there I run daily on a path that is used by runners, walkers, and bikers.  About halfway through my run I decided to make a pit stop at a restroom at the public beach.  Before heading in, I glanced around and did not see anyone in the nearby area. It wasn't all that early, around 7:50 a.m. 

While I was in the bathroom stall I heard someone enter the bathroom and close the door, but they did not move toward the stall next to mine or to the sink. Just silence. I was ready to leave the stall but didn't feel comfortable until this person either left or went into a stall. Something just seemed odd. It felt like a half hour went by but after looking at my Garmin stats (data nerd alert!) my watch was paused for a total of eight minutes.  I tried to stay calm and came up with a plan.  I proceeded to have a fake phone conversation with someone who was meeting me to run.  I told my "friend" I was just finishing up in the restroom and they should wait by the door for me.  I ended my conversation and prayed this person would leave.  I was scared.  Really scared.  As in cold sweat dripping down my back.  If this plan didn't work I was going to call 911.  It may have ended up being excessive, but I didn't care.  You can imagine my relief when I heard them leave.  To be sure, I climbed on the toilet so I could peek over the top of the stall to make sure I was alone.  I was!  I bolted out of the bathroom and into an open area.  I saw a man walking slowly away from the direction of the bathroom. He didn't turn around, but I got a good look. Was that the person in the bathroom?  I can't say with 100% certainty, but he was the only person in sight at the time.  I ran in the opposite direction.

While I was running, I considered what to do. To be perfectly honest, I was initially leaning toward not saying anything at all. I felt stupid for getting myself into a situation like this.  I was embarrassed. My family occasionally, ok frequently, makes comments to me about how running with a friend or one of my dogs would be a smart idea.  I always respond with I'm aware of my surroundings, don't worry.  I've read countless stories about the mother of young children, the high school cross country runner, and so many more women who were attacked or taken while out on a run.  It doesn't seem possible for you to end up as one of those stories.  And given the fact nothing actually happened, and I had no proof, would I be brushed off by the authorities?

I decided not to keep my experience to myself.  My husband and I agreed not saying anything was the worst thing to do.  If someone else was hurt I could never live with the guilt.  After taking some time to think, I sent a message to the county Sheriff detailing what happened and I'm assuming someone will contact me to discuss it further.  

So what do I change going forward?  First, I will always run with my phone.  I bat about .500 on this and thankfully I did have it the day of this incident.  I am already good about running in well populated areas, which doesn't protect you 100%, but it's always the better bet.  I'll continue to work on getting my dog, Levi, into running shape, too.  I will make an effort to change up my usual routes as to not be too predictable. And if anyone wants to become my running buddy, let me know!  :)  Here is a short and sweet article that gives some additional ideas of how to protect yourself.  

I hope sharing this will be a reminder to keep up your guard.  I am beyond lucky to have gotten out of this situation, but it was certainly a wake up call.  Stay safe, my running friends!

 

 

What I'm Doing to Reverse Burnout

August is here, and summer is going a little too quickly for my liking!  I have about 13 weeks to go until the Indy Monumental marathon.  A few weeks ago I was not in a good place with my running - feeling a little burned out, much more tired than normal, basically not enthused about running.  Around that same time my left hip flexor started feeling off - not painful, just off.  A little tight, could feel a clicking sensation, just an overall painless awareness of the area.  Given that I have endured two pelvic stress fractures on that side, I panicked, but thankfully the issue is still nothing more than feeling a little odd.  The last two weeks I have lowered my mileage and eliminated speed sessions just to be safe.  I do not notice anything during my easy runs but am leery of picking up the pace just yet.  I will see my doctor next week just to be sure things are alright and am continuing to base build for Indy until I get an official all clear.  I am also seeing my fantastic cupping specialist tomorrow (that is the topic of my next post, so check back soon!).

Back to burnout.  I think this is something every runner encounters at some point.  Around this time last year I felt the same way (maybe the heat and humidity taking its toll?) and instead of honoring what I was feeling, I pushed through and stuck to my training plan.  The result?  I toed the line in Indy feeling overcooked.  From the first mile my legs felt dead and it never got any better.  It was really disappointing.  I'll never make that mistake again.

At the first sign of those same feelings, I started to think about what I could do differently and not have a repeat performance of last year. First, I focused on increasing my sleep and hydration.  Second, I started to pay close attention to my heart rate during my easy runs.  I am a big fan of heart rate based training.  It's so easy to tell yourself a certain pace feels "easy", but your heart rate will call you out if you're running too hard.  Racing your training runs is one of the most common errors made in training.  I made a commitment to stay in Zone 3, my aerobic zone, during my easy runs, no matter what my pace was.  And believe me, sometimes I don't like the numbers I see on my watch!  I remind myself if it's just a number and refocus on my goal I went back in my training log to last summer, when I was feeling burned out, and sure enough, my heart rate on my easy runs was WAY too high.  So yes, my runs this summer are going to be slower than last year but they are having the appropriate training effect on my aerobic system, and I will recover faster.  I already feel much better than I did two weeks ago. Here is an excellent article by Sarah Crouch on the subject of burnout.

One of my most prized training tools!

One of my most prized training tools!

So what's next?  Making sure my hip is healthy, and adding some intensity back into my miles. Thankfully November is still quite a ways off and I have plenty of time to add some speed to my nice base of miles!

A Bit of a Workout Fail and a New Find!

The title pretty much sums up my run this morning - a bit of a fail in terms of hitting 10k pace. What was supposed to happen - 3 mile warm up, 16 x 90 seconds at 6:20 pace with 1 minute recovery at 7:30 to 8:00 pace, 3 mile cool down.  What actually happened - the majority of the 90 second intervals at 6:20 pace were more like 6:30 pace.  The recoveries between 7:30 and 8:00 pace were a breeze.  The cool down was a breeze.  So what happened?  The weather was beautiful, cloudy and 55 degrees.  Can't point the finger there.  I'm going to chalk it up to 6:20 pace being foreign territory to me.  To sum it up, I'm not efficient at anything under 6:50/mile. My legs cant seem to tell the difference between 6:30 pace and 6:00 pace, they just feel like lead.  For the last nearly 10 years of training I have done lots of workouts at marathon and half marathon pace, and really nothing any faster, with the exception of strides.  Mostly I feared injury, and marathon and half marathon paces were my safe place.  I have run exactly one 5k and three 10k's since I started running 10 years ago. But, as I tell the members of the studio where I coach classes, if there's no challenge, there's no change.  Today was a challenge, and according to my Garmin, there was change! (I know, don't get too hung up on data, but it's making me feel better so we're rolling with it).

A little consolation thanks to my Forerunner 935!  

A little consolation thanks to my Forerunner 935!

 

To be honest, a little failure is a bit of a turn on.  If I smoked every workout that would not keep me hungry and focused.  But now, after taking a hit to the ego, I want to put in the work that will make 6:20 pace feel more familiar and less like a stranger.  I want it more now after the workout than I did before the workout.

This morning I did something I had never done before, and I'm shaking my head that I waited so long to do it - I programmed my workout into my watch, which literally took less than two minutes.  I tend to lose count of reps very easily and it was awesome to have the watch do the counting for me.  If your Garmin has this capability and you've never taken advantage, try it!

Last week I decided to order a pair of Rabbit Catch Me if You Can running shorts.  I had noticed some buzz about Rabbit on social media and on some podcasts I listen to.  I am in love!!  I have worn Lululemon Speed shorts and Oiselle Roga shorts for years, and there's a decent chance I may never buy another pair.  The fit of the Rabbit shorts, especially the length, are great for my short legs and the fabric feels lighter than any other shorts I own.   I'm hooked!  Rabbit's website is:  www.runinrabbit.com.

PC:  Runinrabbit.com

PC:  Runinrabbit.com

I'm not sponsored by Rabbit, I just really like their shorts, and if you'd like to try some I can send you a link for 10% off your first order.  Email me or comment below!  

Training Update and Some Other Tidbits

Somehow three weeks have passed since my last post - the end of the school year craziness got the best of me!  I have started to build my mileage and intensity again as my focus shifts to the Indy Monumental Marathon in early November.  Last week I had two workouts on my schedule:  the first combined a fast threshold mile with 12 x 400 m repeats at 5:58 pace, and the second was five miles at marathon pace in the middle of a 10 miler.  I am working with my coach Esther Atkins again this cycle and am excited to see what progress I can make!

Like many of you, I have been running in some very hot and humid conditions.  Over the past few weeks I have been running slower (gasp!) than my easy range to keep my runs truly easy. The pace range for my easy runs is anywhere from 7:48 to 8:36.  Believe me, there have been many miles far slower than that pace range.  There are some benefits to running in the heat, which include your body producing more oxygenated blood to service both your hard working muscles and to dissipate heat, better control of core temperature, and you become a more efficient sweater - you start sweating earlier at a lower body temperature AND your sweat contains less salt, which results in a better electrolyte balance.  I think having a positive mindset goes a long way, too.  Rather than thinking to myself "It is so freaking hot today, this run is going to suck!", I've been trying to start every run happy and thankful I am able to do it. Here is an article which further discusses the benefits and dangers of exercising in warmer temperatures.  

I've been using my Garmin Forerunner 935 for about six weeks now and have had enough to time to determine it is by the far the best Garmin I have ever owned (and there have been many!).  I was going to launch into an in depth review but could never compete with DC Rainmaker's post, which you can find here.  If you prefer a shorter read, head here.  I really like the training status feature - below is a picture of today's reading.  It says my fitness is increasing while maintaining my usual work load, so hopefully I am reaping some of those rewards of hot weather running I listed above! 

Confession time - I am really bad about hydrating during long runs.  Really bad.  As in I only drink if I happen to pass a water fountain.  I know better, I really do.  After my long run last weekend that left me so dehydrated it took hours to recover from, I decided I need to purchase a handheld water bottle.  So please send me a recommendation!